Mar. 08, 2017
Adrian Peterson, Released
The Minnesota Vikings have declined Adrian Peterson's option. What this means is AP is likely to become a free agent. What are his likely destinations? Is he a workhorse back? Have the Vikings made the right move?
THIS JUST IN: Adrian Peterson to become unrestricted free agent after Vikings announce the team will not exercise 2017 option. pic.twitter.com/fAiwU2biuJ— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) February 28, 2017
If Adrian Peterson didn't beat his kid and leave marks on the testicles and ass, AP would be one of my favorite football players. I'm biased. AP on the football field is who I grew up with. No one in the NFL ran with the speed, ferocity, or intensity that AP did. Alas, over the years the speed and intensity has worn off. I suppose the ferocity remains. But that ferocity doesn't change the fact that AP is 31 years old. The history for 30+ year old backs is not good.
Unless your name is Matt Forte or Frank Gore, 30+ year old backs in the NFL have largely failed. Forte and Gore are unique because they can catch passes out of the backfield, they're both solid blockers, and they can run. AP is a decent blocker, is not a great pass catcher, and I'm not so sure he can run anymore either.
Don't get me wrong, AP is one of the best backs this league has ever seen, and if anyone can go toe to toe with father time it's AP. But I'm not betting on AP. Since college, AP has had a dislocated shoulder (2004), a high ankle sprain (2005), a fractured collar bone (2006), a sprained LCL (2007), a thigh contusion (2010), a strained hamstring (2010) a torn ACL (2011), a high ankle sprain (2011), a sports hernia (2012), a mid foot sprain in (2013), a clean up surgery for his sports hernia (2014) and a torn meniscus (2015). It's amazing he's even considering playing next year.
The Vikings have made the right decision. It's better to let a guy go too early than too late. AP didn't help his case by calling Jerry Jones and telling him he'd like to play for the Cowboys. Do the Vikings have anyone to replace AP? Not really. Jerrick McKinnon is OK. Matt Asiata is less than OK. Neither of them will be AP.
There is only one AP. The Vikings drafted literally one of the best running backs ever. But the Vikings are looking around at other teams. What do the Patriots, Packers, Seahawks, Saints, Redskins and other offenses have in common? Offenses which are not based around the running back. What's the old football adage? A running game is a QB's best friend? No one ever said a good QB is running game's best friend. Passing offenses work in a league geared towards boosting passing numbers. Refs favor QB's, and the rules favor passing. Lastly, throwing the ball through the air is more effective because the ball travels faster than the man. Of course passing is predicated on having an above average QB.
And that's just it. The Vikings should be putting their time, effort, and money into developing their QB. Maybe Teddy Bridgewater is their QB of the future. AP is not the future. AP hasn't played a full season since 2012. He's not getting any younger. Not with all those miles he has on his metaphorical tires. He'll be 32 in March. Could AP gain 1000 yards this year? Maybe. But what would that even mean? Would the Vikings win any of those games?
AP pounding the rock even at his peak never resulted in Minnesota making much noise in the playoffs. Think about the best teams in the playoffs. Teams who were Superbowl contenders. The Patriots; no run game. The Broncos; defense. The Seahawks; Marshawn Lynch was good, but their defense was what won it for them. The Ravens; defense. Long story short, even a great running game will only take you so far. And that's betting on AP being great. He probably won't be. Speaking of betting, it all comes down to...
Money. Peterson was scheduled to receive a 6 million dollar roster bonus. That's on top of his 11 million guaranteed. The salary cap for 2017 is 94 million. 94 / .17 = 15%. If you're the Vikings, you can't put 15% of your entire team's salary on a soon to be 32 year old running back who hasn't been able to stay on the field.
If he's not on the field for Minnesota, where will he be? AP has openly stated he's willing to play for the Giants, Bucs, Cowboys, and Texans. My guess is he goes to the Texans. Peterson grew up in Texas, the Texans are a playoff team, their defense is solid, Lamar Miller has underwhelmed, and no state income tax in Texas. The Cowboys are out, Ezekiel Elliot is too good and his backup, Alfred Morris is good too. The Bucs will lose the division to the Falcons. The Giants are fine, but those taxes will getcha in NY.
The other option is Peterson renegotiates and stays in Minnesota. Minnesota looked like a playoff team. Their defense is legitimate, Teddy Bridgewater is coming back, and Peterson has played there his entire career. My guess is AP leaves. Sometimes when you've played on one team your entire career you want to see something else. I think it will be a mutually beneficial departure. Minnesota can find out if McKinnon can take them to the promised land. AP can try and find the promised land... Somewhere else.