It looks to be the end of an era and we all need to accept that. The Vikings did not pick up Adrian Peterson’s option for the 2017 season and he is set to be a free agent.
Running backs have been considered a dime a dozen-type position, with the exception of a few standout ones. Perhaps injuries and age are finally catching up with Peterson, as he will be exploring the free agent market for the first time in his career
There are four possible teams that could use Peterson in the meantime to finish out his Hall of Fame career. Minnesota for one, Tampa Bay, New York Giants and Oakland Raiders have been mentioned as possible teams for Peterson to land this season.
Should he be paid a kings ransom based on his career numbers? No
Peterson is now 31 years old and the time for nearly all running backs in the history of the league to decline is by this age.
Now, Peterson did bounce back from a torn ACL in 2011 to rush for a career high 2,097 yards to go along with 12 touchdowns in 2012 but did have another knee injury this past season. His hard-nosed running style with violent cuts has put a toll on his body. After a productive 2015, Peterson managed to only play in three games in 2016, carrying the ball 37 times for only 72 yards. Granted, the Vikings offensive line did not do him any favors, but Peterson did not appear to be the same explosive back.
As far as prospective teams to pick up Peterson besides the Vikings resigning him, the Raiders and Bucs make the most sense. Let’s throw the Giants out the window and here is why.
Peterson is going to command a decent amount of money but the Giants are trying to go younger around an aging Eli Manning who has a small window left to win one more Super Bowl. Plus, the Giants are a shotgun heavy team, which does not make sense scheme wise for the downhill style of Peterson.
Don’t forget, Paul Perkins will be entering his second year for the Giants and flashed some potential last season. He is also on a rookie deal.
Down in Tampa, running back Doug Martin was hit with a suspension in December and although he signed a big five-year deal, the Bucs can cut him and face no penalty. The warm weather climate should appeal to Peterson, playing in the NFC South and he could be the piece to put the Bucs in as a playoff contender in the NFC.
However, if Peterson decides to end his time in Minnesota, the Oakland Raiders make the most sense.
This was a team that had Super Bowl aspirations before quarterback Derek Carr was lost for the season right before the playoffs. With the release of running back Latavius Murray, there is a hole at the position. A pass happy offense in Oakland with a good offensive line could prolong Peterson’s career and likely give him his best shot at winning a Super Bowl.
Now, it is Minnesota’s turn. Do the Vikings bring him back? If Peterson is willing to take a hometown discount and stay with the Vikings, it does in fact make sense.
The Vikings need to fix their offense line and I mean fix it majorly. The entire team was hit with the injury bug after they were dubbed a Super Bowl contender out of the NFC. I believe that is still the case.
It will certainly be intriguing to see where Peterson lands this offseason. However as I said, it is the end of an era. I don’t believe we will ever see the great Adrian Peterson at his peak ever again.
If there is any shot of that, he should head west and sign with Oakland. Perhaps the end of the era will be put on delay for a bit.