Sep 18, 2016; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson (28) smiles prior to the game against the Green Bay Packers at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
It’s hard to believe Adrian Peterson is still looking for a new home, but here are five teams that should still consider signing the running back in free agency.
Nobody could have predicted Adrian Peterson would still be searching for a new team to join for the 2017 season almost two full weeks into the 2017 NFL free agency period, but at this rate, the veteran running back may have to accept a reduced role with less money. Peterson may believe he deserves a hefty deal from a new team, but the Minnesota Vikings deserve plenty of credit for making the tough decision to save around $18 million by parting ways with their former beloved running back.
The good news for Peterson is, despite his early struggles to reach a deal with a new team, there are still a few teams that could desperately use some help in the running back department. From the Green Bay Packers losing Eddie Lacy to the New York Giants parting ways with Rashad Jennings, these are just two examples of numerous teams that should still be considered possible destinations for Peterson during the 2017 season.
Of course, if there’s going to be any chance of Peterson finding a new home, he most likely will need to accept the risk that comes with a running back his age coming off a disappointing 2016 season in which he was limited to three games. In other words, Peterson has to face the tough reality of not receiving a hefty contract like he was originally expecting when he was released by the Vikings a few weeks ago.
At this point in his career, Peterson should be focused more on the potential to win a Super Bowl instead of fighting for a large contract since no team seems willing to risk overpaying the running back. Starting off with the Dallas Cowboys, here’s a look at five teams Peterson should strongly consider joining to help him finally earn that first Super Bowl win.
Dec 26, 2016; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott (21) celebrates with teammates after scoring a touchdown during the second half against the Detroit Lions at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Last year, the Dallas Cowboys emerged out of nowhere to have one of the league’s top offenses thanks to Ezekeil Elliott wasting no time becoming one of the league’s top running backs. The former Ohio State standout benefitted from arguably having the league’s top offensive line, but between losing Doug Free to retirement along with Ron Leary to the Denver Broncos, Elliott may not be able to find open holes as easy as he did during his rookie season.
Still, just because the offensive line is dealing with a few adjustments doesn’t mean Elliott won’t have a strong sophomore season since he’s clearly capable of handling 20-30 carries. With that being said, just imagine the potential surrounding Dallas’ ground game with a duo at running back in Elliott and Adrian Peterson.
Of course, the only way this becomes possible is if Peterson fully accepts his role as the No. 2 running back to the Cowboys since Elliott clearly deserves to be the starter. Not only would Peterson be able to fulfill his dream of playing in Dallas, but he would be joining a team with a legitimate shot at making a Super Bowl run after the Cowboys finished with the best record in the NFC during the regular season last year.
Jan 15, 2017; Arlington, TX, USA; Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) celebrates a touchdown with head coach Mike McCarthy against the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC Divisional playoff game at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
4. Green Bay Packers
One of the most impressive things about the miraculous run to the NFC Championship by the Green Bay Packers was how Aaron Rodgers was able to carry the offense despite little support from the ground game. With Eddie Lacy and James Starks both dealing with injuries, Ty Montgomery stepped it up every once in a while for the Packers offense in the ground game, but the inconsistency constantly put extra pressure on Rodgers.
Now that Lacy is a member of the Seattle Seahawks and Starks is a free agent, the Packers find themselves in desperate need of help at running back, and while there’s a good chance they will look to the upcoming draft, they should still at least consider the possibility of Adrian Peterson. Even if Green Bay still used one of their upcoming picks in the draft on a running back, the presence of a veteran like Peterson would be even more beneficial.
Plus, how ironic would it be to see Peterson join the Packers when the Minnesota Vikings did the same thing back in 2009 with Brett Favre taking over the starting role at quarterback for two seasons? The level of impact may not be the same as Favre, joining an NFC North rival could motivate Peterson even more to prove the Vikings were wrong to release him.
Dec 18, 2016; San Diego, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) and wide receiver Michael Crabtree (15) stretch before the game against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
3. Oakland Raiders
Forget all of the rumors surrounding Marshawn Lynch coming out of retirement to join the Oakland Raiders as that should be the last thing the team should consider heading into next season. Obviously the loss of Latavius Murray (Minnesota Vikings) certainly hurts the ground game, but bringing on a player like Lynch who has been out of the league for a full year seems too risky for a team that earned a Wild Card spot in the AFC in 2016.
On paper, there’s a good chance the Raiders will have one of the league’s top offenses once again in 2017 thanks to Derek Carr elevating his game to an MVP type level during his third season as the starter. Carr has an extra advantage compared to most quarterbacks in the league thanks to having one of the league’s top duos at wide receiver in Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree, but Oakland can’t afford to leave him hanging without a reliable running back to help take some of the pressure off running the offense.
The Raiders were immediately considered one of the potential landing spots for Peterson when he was first released by the Minnesota Vikings. If the veteran is smart, he should do whatever it takes to be part of this rising team in the AFC. Oakland made a huge statement last season by almost winning the AFC West title, and there’s a good chance the team will feel extra motivated to be in contention once again since the argument can be made they would have advanced further in the postseason with a healthy Carr.
Put all of this into consideration with the possible addition of Peterson, the sky could be the limit for the Raiders in 2017.
Dec 24, 2016; New Orleans, LA, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston (3) gestures after a third quarter touchdown against the New Orleans Saints at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports
2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Give credit to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for making one of the biggest moves in free agency by finding a way to bring DeSean Jackson on board to give the passing game one of the fastest receivers in the NFL. The former Washington Redskins receiver will certainly benefit from playing alongside Mike Evans on top of Jameis Winston continuing to improve with experience, but the team could still use another reliable option at running back.
The Buccaneers made the wise move early on in free agency by re-signing Jacquizz Rodgers, and while he’s certainly going to have the chance to make a name for himself during his second season with the team, it’s clear another running back needs to come on board. This year’s draft class is certainly filled with plenty of great talent at running back, but the addition of a veteran running back like Adrian Peterson could help Tampa Bay take their game to the next level by becoming strong contenders in the NFC.
Keep in mind how close the Buccaneers were to making the playoffs last year if it wasn’t for two late losses to the Dallas Cowboys and New Orleans Saints. Tampa Bay’s passing game is already loaded with what could become one of the league’s next best duos in Evans and Jackson. But imagine the type of damage that could be done by this offense with a healthy Peterson in the lineup.
Nov 6, 2016; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants head coach Ben McAdoo talks with Giants wide receiver Sterling Shepard (87) and quarterback Eli Manning (10) and wide receiver Roger Lewis (82) and wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (13) during a review during the fourth quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
1. New York Giants
Remember the popular saying about the rich getting richer? While the New England Patriots have been familiar with that saying after seeing how successful they’ve been during free agency, the passing game of the New York Giants is right up there with them after the addition of Brandon Marshall.
Eli Manning was already fortunate enough to have a young duo at wide receiver on the rise in Odell Beckham Jr. and Sterling Shephard, but bringing Marshall on board takes this offense to a whole new level. Opposing defenses already had their hands full last year worrying about the whereabouts of Beckham and Shephard, as the Giants were able to earn one of the Wild Card spots in the NFC.
Even though Marshall joining the team will provide Manning with plenty of reliable options each time he lines up under center, it still doesn’t take away from the fact that New York has very little support in the ground game. Releasing Rashad Jennings was a necessary move by the organization since he’s clearly far from being a No. 1 running back. And while Paul Perkins showed potential at times as a rookie in 2016, the verdict is still out there on whether he’s the true answer for the Giants.
By bringing on someone like Adrian Peterson, New York would at least feel more comfortable knowing they have an experienced running back to immediately improve the ground game, assuming he can stay healthy. Not to mention the offensive line of the Giants would need to show some sort of improvement on their end to help get the best from Peterson as well.