By: Cory Vest
A former Rookie of the Year, AP Offensive Rookie of the Year, NFL Offensive Player of the Year, MVP, and seven-time Pro Bowler is still on the NFL market. The catch? He is 32-years-old, missed the last season due to a torn meniscus, and is supposedly asking for $8 million in his first year of a contract, which would make him the third highest paid running back next season.
The mystery man described above is Adrian Peterson. Peterson became a free agent after the Vikings declined to pick up his $18 million contract. AP spent ten years with the Vikings, and the Vikings only. Peterson’s hall of fame career is now set to end in another jersey. Several teams have been said to be interested, yet no one has gotten his name on the dotted line. Peterson himself mentioned the Giants, Texans, and Buccaneers.
Are the strings attached to signing Peterson warranted? Peterson himself has shot down the allegation regarding his hefty asking price, stating on Instagram “How prideful is it for me to put out…I won’t play for anything less than 8 million!” Peterson also posted “It’s not all about the money” along with “Here is something straight from the horse’s mouth…finding the best fit and helping a team in a major way win a championship is my main objective! I’m in no rush.”
If the money is not an issue, then it must be the age and fear of injury that has teams hesitating. Peterson has two major injuries under his belt, the aforementioned torn meniscus that occurred in week two of the 20116 season, and a torn ACL/MCL which he suffered at the end of the 2011 season. The torn meniscus led to Peterson missing weeks 3 through 14. Peterson returned for week 15 but only saw six carries. Peterson did not see the field again for the Vikings after that. The injury should be fully healed by now especially considering Peterson’s miracle turnaround after the torn ACL/MCL. The recovery time for such an injury should have led to Peterson missing multiple weeks of the 2012 season. Peterson got the start week one in 2012 with only the off season to recover.
Not only did Peterson suit up and play, he went on to have an MVP worthy season. Peterson rushed for a career high 2,097 yards on another career high 6.0 yards per carry. Peterson found the end-zone 12 times by land and once through the air. He also added 217 receiving yards. This performance clearly showed a super human side of Peterson. So, are injuries really something to be concerned about? Aside from the meniscus and ACL/MCL tears, Peterson has missed games for a sports hernia, sprained ankles and minor issues with his legs.
Ok, so the fear of injury can be disabled a bit. What about his age? At 32, he is not necessarily as spry and explosive as he once was. The light at the end of his career tunnel, has to be visible. Take this into consideration however, Peterson missed all but one game of the 2014 season due to a suspension he received for child abuse. Why is this relevant? That is an entire season of rest for the aging Peterson. AP’s body was able to avoid a season’s worth of beating, while being able to nurse any bumps and bruises. Think of it as a season that was put into storage. Now I am not saying that Peterson is capable of taking on a full load of carries, but as a complimentary back, success could still be had. He did lead the NFL in rushing in 2015, the last season he played in all 16 games, racking up 1,485 yards.
With career stats that read quite impressively, Peterson could be a valuable addition to whoever ends up signing him. AP has 11,747 yards rushing with an average of 4.9 yards per tote. He has an average of 95.5 yards rushing per game, and has found the end zone 97 times on the ground. Peterson also does a pretty decent job of protecting the ball, coughing it up only 34 times on 2,418 carries.
So, which team’s jersey will Peterson be sporting next season? As stated previously, AP specifically mentioned the Giants, Texans, and Buccaneers as teams of interest.
The Giants released Rashad Jennings, leaving an opening in the back-field depth chart. That open spot in the depth chart has most likely been filled by the recent signing of former 49ers RB Shaun Draughn however. The cast the Giants call their running backs is not too star studded though, with Paul Perkins currently playing the lead and Shane Vereen and Orleans Darkwa in the supporting roles. Ben McAdoo was quoted saying “Never say never” while adding this about Peterson, “He’s a guy who is a very talented player, and he has a chip on his shoulder. And if he can stay healthy, he has a lot to offer.” The backfield seems a bit crowded and McAdoo’s quote is most likely a bone tossed to a hungry media.
The Texans could use another back-up to Lamar Miller, who currently rely on Alfred Blue and Jonathon Grimes to fill that position. Could they end up with both Tony Romo and AP, the top two names on the market? The roster is filled with talent and they are fresh off a playoff appearance last season. AP would have to play second fiddle but he very well could make a big impact for a team primed for a championship.
The most intriguing team of late could be the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Recent conversation has sprung after AP worked out with Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston. Winston supposedly took on the role of NFL scout as Bucs coach Dirk Koetter said “I am anxious to talk to Jameis and ask him how his workouts went.” Koetter also made mention of Peterson’s talent saying “I’ve seen Adrian Peterson many times playing and that guy is one of the best running backs to ever play.” Doug Martin, Tampa’s RB1 will be suspended for the first three weeks of the 2017 season due to substance abuse. Martin has been far from reliable as of late, playing in only half the season in 2016 while putting up subpar numbers. Jacquizz Rodgers and Peyton Barber did a decent job of carrying the load while Martin was out. Charles Sims also had a hand in the backfield. More depth, and a veteran presence is never a bad thing. The Buccaneers already improved their receiving corps this off season with the addition of Desean Jackson, could the bolstering up of running backs be next?