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Mike Zimmer latest member of Vikings to support bringing back Adrian Peterson

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If the Minnesota Vikings truly would prefer to avoid the potential problems associated with bringing back Adrian Peterson, the organization — from top to bottom — sure is putting up one heckuva smokescreen.

Head coach Mike Zimmer now has joined the fray, becoming the latest member of the Vikings to proclaim publicly he supports the team bringing back the suspended Peterson next season.

Zimmer, speaking Thursday at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, said it is his hope Peterson rejoins the team once his suspension is lifted — either on April 15 when he is reinstated by the NFL — or possibly sooner, if Peterson’s appeal of the suspension proves successful.

“I’m hopeful that he’s back with us,” Zimmer said, via the Pioneer Press, adding that the team will not “look for a running back in free agency.”

The coach added that he believes the many positive traits Peterson has exhibited and qualities he’s demonstrated both on and off the field should be taken into account, not just the child abuse case that destroyed the running back’s reputation and caused him to lose an entire season of his NFL career.

“I think that people will … remember all the good things that he has done throughout his career,” Zimmer said. “And not just on the football field, either.”

Zimmer’s comments echo what Vikings general manager Rick Spielman has had to say about the organizational desire to keep the franchise’s all-time leading rusher in purple.

Despite the near-universal stance by the Vikings that they want Peterson back, several potential roadblocks stand in way of it coming to fruition, beginning with Peterson’s lofty salary for the upcoming season.

The running back’s base salary for 2015 is $12.75 million, which carries a cap hit of $15.4 million. While it’s not inconceivable that the Vikings would bring him back at that amount, it’s unlikely. Further, Peterson’s pride may prevent him from agreeing to a pay cut.

The Vikings do appear willing — given what’s been said by everyone from Zimmer to Spielman to co-owner Mark Wilf and new COO Kevin Warren — to endure a possible public relations issue should the team hold on to Peterson.

While Peterson was a primary topic Thursday, Zimmer did showcase his sense of humor during comments made to the media. When asked about the team signing former Packers tight end Brandon Bostick, who became the goat in Green Bay’s loss in the NFC Championship Game, the head coach offered up this observation.

“We’ll try not to put him on the onside kick team,” Zimmer said, via the Star Tribune.

If only getting Peterson back in a Vikings jersey next season was as simple a task as it was to pull off that easy joke.

(photo credit: AP Photo/Mark Zaleski