The Minnesota Vikings' all-time leader in rushing attempts, yards and touchdowns may have carried the ball for the last time in purple. Adrian Peterson is due a $6 million roster bonus on March 11 and would carry a cap hit of $18 million with his current contract. Cutting Peterson wouldn't cost the Vikings any dead money against the 2017 cap thus his release is expected to occur before that bonus is due. With all the rumors flying around about Peterson's future in the NFL, FOX Sports North filters through the talk and breaks down each situation, franchise by franchise.
FOX Sports North
Why it works: General manager Rick Spielman has claimed he wants Peterson to retire in Minnesota. The Vikings drafted him seventh overall in the 2007 NFL Draft and have watched him demolish every franchise rushing record. He would have to agree to restructure his contract, but it's not out of the question for Peterson to remain a Viking.
Why it doesn't: One number: $18 million. His deal is the most expensive NFL contract for a running back by a $10 million margin – the Buffalo Bills' LeSean McCoy is owed about $8 million in 2017. Peterson recently said in an interview that he has "earned his way up to the $18 million," so he might not be willing to restructure and if he is cut he'd be available to the highest bidder.
New York Giants
Why it works: After Peterson tweeted about the Giants on Feb. 15, New York has looked like one of the more intriguing landing spots if he doesn't stay in Minnesota. The Giants released 2016 starting running back Rashad Jennings (181 carries for 593 yards) on Feb. 13. With its top-10 defense and the electric combination of Eli Manning and Odell Beckham Jr., New York may think it's only one piece away from another Super Bowl run. The Giants have more than enough cap space (over $31 million) to fit Peterson on their roster.
Why it doesn't: The Giants might be satisfied relying on running back Paul Perkins, who is coming off a solid rookie season. The fifth-round draft pick ran for 456 yards and averaged 4.1 yards per carry, all while earning a mere $603K. Keeping Perkins at the starting spot makes the most financial sense for New York.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Why it works: Tampa Bay was one of the three destinations Peterson named during an interview last month. The Buccaneers' rushing attack is headed by Doug Martin, but he's missed 25 games since starting (including eight this past season) all 16 in his 2012 rookie campaign and, despite signing a contract extension through 2020, could be cut without any salary-cap ramifications. Also, Martin averaged just 2.9 yards per carry. Not that the Bucs need room as they currently have over $61 million in cap space.
Why it doesn't: Are the Buccaneers really the type of team Peterson wants to play for? Sure, they are coming off a decent 9-7 season, but the Bucs have a developing quarterback in Jameis Winston. If Peterson was to leave Minnesota, one would think he'd want to play with an established veteran quarterback instead of taking a chance with a younger guy like he did during most of his career with the Vikings. Also, besides Martin, Tampa Bay has running backs Charles Sims and Peyton Barber on the roster.
Why it works: Houston joined New York and Tampa Bay to round out Peterson's three places of interest he named last month. He would return to his home state of Texas to play for a team that has an incredible defense and a chance to make the postseason every year in the rather uninspiring AFC South.
Why it doesn't: Peterson might want to play for Houston, but it doesn't seem feasible. The Texans signed Lamar Miller to a four-year deal worth $26 million before the 2016 season. Cutting him would actually hurt the Texans' salary-cap by $2 million. Plus, Miller ran for 1,073 yards -- good for 10th in the NFL -- and five touchdowns. Houston also is on the hook for quarterback Brock Osweiler -- cutting him would give the Texans $25 million in dead money and cause them to lose $6 million in cap savings, hardly ideal. So it's not like the Texans would want to dish out big money for Peterson.
Why it works: Washington doesn't have much of a flashy backfield at all with rookie "Fat Rob" Kelley and Chris Thompson, who is a restricted free agent, splitting time. The presence of Peterson in the backfield could give quarterback Kirk Cousins (see below) more time on play-action passes to connect with whatever wide receivers the team brings back (Pierre Garcon and Desean Jackson are free agents), Josh Doctson and tight end supreme Jordan Reed. Also, Washington owner Daniel Snyder is not against making splashy moves.
Why it doesn't: Kirk Cousins. The Redskins need to make a decision in the next week about the future of their quarterback, whether they want to sign him to a long-term deal or assign him a franchise tag. Either way, Cousins will demand a high price eventually, and Washington might want to invest in more downfield weapons for Captain Kirk now that Jackson and/or Garcon might be out the door.
Why it works: Baltimore ranked 28th in the NFL with 91.4 rushing yards per game last season as the team searched for a consistent running back. The Terrance West and Kenneth Dixon combination didn't impress Ravens fans, especially in an 11-yard rushing effort against the New York Jets on Oct. 23. A backfield featuring Peterson would take a lot of pressure off quarterback Joe Flacco.
Why it doesn't: The Ravens haven't publicly said much about their interest in Peterson. Along with many other teams, they might look towards the low-risk, high-reward late rounds of the NFL Draft to inexpensively bolster the rushing attack. Baltimore also is in the lower-range of teams in terms of available cap space, right now at around $14 million.
New England Patriots
Why it works: Peterson wants to play with a veteran quarterback and a team with a chance for a ring, right? What about the New England Patriots? There's been some speculation that Peterson would fit here and, of course, the Pats are a shoo-in for the playoffs every year. New England does have a ton of cap room, over $60 million (thank you, Tom Brady), and LaGarrette Blount is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent. Plus, look at what the Patriots did when Randy Moss came to town!
Why it doesn't: Head coach Bill Belichick has a short fuse with running backs, especially ones with a history of fumbling. Fumbling the football has haunted Peterson since his rookie season, so a Super Bowl in a Patriots uniform seems unlikely. Plus, if Peterson is looking for a big payday, despite New England's cap situation, the Patriots don't usually hand out big contracts.
Why it works: Speaking of owners who like to make big splashes … It seems that Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has flirted with the idea of having Peterson in Dallas since the running back's college days at Oklahoma. Dallas doesn't have a lot of cap room, but is expected to clear some by trading or, more likely cutting, quarterback Tony Romo.
Why it doesn't: Peterson has ambitions to break the NFL's all-time rushing record, a mark that he needs almost 7,000 more rushing yards to match. If he were to play in Dallas, Peterson would act as second fiddle to All-Pro rookie running back Ezekiel Elliot. Although a return to his hometown team would be a cute story for a while, Peterson wants to finish his career as an NFL legend – not as a backup running back.