I just LOVE preseason football. Because the best man just might win.

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Word on the street is that new Vikings coach Mike Zimmer doesn’t need to see anything from Adrian Peterson in the preseason, and that AP may not play at all until Week 1.

On the surface, this sounds reasonable. AP is not just a proven commodity, he is the ONLY commodity for the Vikings. Protect your most valuable player from injury in meaningless games…right?

But there are several negative aspects to this approach. For example, fans who are forced to purchase preseason game tickets at full price in order to purchase season tickets don’t get to see their favorite player for which they paid so handsomely a price.

But the so-called “negative aspect” also sometimes opens the door for something very positive to happen.

Flash back two years ago: the Seahawks drafted a ridiculously short QB in the third round after signing Matt Flynn to nine meeelyun dollahs guaranteed. That rookie was actually THIRD on the depth chart, and during the preseason Russell Wilson beat out both Flynn and T-Jack to be the starter in Week 1. It was absolutely ELECTRIFYING watching this happen during preseason games.

The preseason is the ultimate job interview, and we get to watch players fly around the field trying to get that job…sometimes making spectacular plays, other times making spectacular mistakes. It can be such fun watching these fringe guys play balls-out football. Every once in awhile, we see a future superstar get his start.

And the very positive thing that could happen this preseason is exactly what Vikings fans should worry about.

No, I’m not suggesting some rookie, or anybody else, would have even so much as a prayer of beating out All Day. I’m suggesting that Adrian has already been beaten. Seriously, a NEW coach doesn’t need to see if his star player is up to full speed with the NEW system?

This is what we call “trade bait”, folks. AP will hit the running back’s magical 30 milestone a month after Super Bowl XLIX (for those who don’t speaketh Greek, I mean the next championship game). The Vikings’ GM is very well aware of this upcoming birthday party. Lots of people HOPE that a star running back will continue to be productive for a few more years beyond 30, but the reality is that these race horses are already on their way out to pasture. Who knows when Adrian’s ACL will be blown out again, anyway?

Plus, AP knows that the bettor’s odds of getting a Super Bowl ring with the Vikings over the next couple of years…even the loser’s ring…is almost zero.

The Vikings want real value from Peterson. Trading him during the preseason could provide them with value for the future. So they must keep the man from getting injured.

Peterson wants to be on a contending team. He wants a ring before his career is over.

And there are quite a few teams who would love to have a running back that is (at least for now…) still such an explosive runner. Maybe even a team that has a real shot at the Super Bowl, like the one that has to deal with a hold-out of their own. A team that is willing to trade handsomely to assume AP’s contract…a contract that is apparently team-friendly.

The best man just might win this preseason.

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