NFL fans around the league recognize the name “Adrian Peterson,” as one of the best running backs in the league. There’s no denying it. However, many fans—Minnesotans included—often don’t take the time to recognize the name helping AP shine. That guy is Vikings fullback Jerome Felton.
Remember the 64-yard touchdown run Peterson sprinted for in October? A great run to be sure, but it was Felton running loose ahead of the play that created space for the RB to score seven.
“[Peterson’s] going to be a great back regardless, but all I’m trying to do is make life a little bit easier on him […] He gives me an opportunity to show what I can do to the league,” Felton said to the Strib. “And hopefully vice-versa; I make life a little easier on him.”
Felton’s quiet impact is why head coach Leslie Frazier refers to the 26-year-old as the “unsung hero” on the team.
The Vikings chose to sign Felton to only a one-year deal at the beginning of the season. Admittedly, the back spent four mediocre seasons in the league prior to donning the purple and gold. The fullback played in Detroit, Carolina and Indianpolis, but it wasn’t until he made the move to Minny that fans grasped his full potential.
“It’s all about the timing of the situation, being in the right place at the right time,” Felton said. “I feel like this is the right place.”
Now that his $750,000 deal is up, will Felton choose to keep his cleats in Minnesota?
At this point, he isn’t rushing to test the free agency waters. “I feel good about being here,” said Felton in early January. “I hope that they get something done before that. That’s my goal.”
Whether or not Rick Spielman and his franchise want the fullback to stay is not the question. The question is this: will the Vikings dig deep enough into their pockets to keep Felton on the roster? At 26 years old, one can expect that Felton will reach for the top bidder while he can. The highest-paid NFL fullback is currently Baltimore’s Vonta Leach, and Felton is expected to snag somewhere close to the $3 million/year salary.
Especially in a team case such as Minnesota’s, owners cannot afford to undervalue fullbacks. If the Vikings hope to come out strong for the 2013-14 season, and if Peterson hopes to run for the rushing-yard record, Minnesota must secure Jerome Felton before free agency opens.
Lindsey Young is a graduate of Northwestern College and an avid Minnesota sports fan[atic]. It’s been argued females don’t know much about sports, but she begs to differ. Currently working full time at her alma mater, she continues to edit and write for BleacherReport.com and on her blog Making the Call in pursuit of a career in sports journalism. You can follow her on Twitter @lilshortie2712.