Adrian Peterson will officially be a free agent on March 9, but which teams could the veteran running back land on for the 2017 season.
The Minnesota Vikings made an expected decision on Tuesday regarding running back Adrian Peterson. As first reported by Albert Breer of The MMQB, the Vikings chose not to pick up the option on Peterson’s contract. Following his effective release with this decision, Peterson will now become an unrestricted free agent when the period begins on March 9.
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Peterson represents an interesting prospect on the open market. At his best, we’ve seen what the future Hall-of-Famer is capable of. In the 2015 season, he rushed for 1,485 yards and 11 touchdowns while playing in all 16 games. However, Peterson will be 32 years old next season and spent the majority of the 2016 campaign sidelined due to injury. Though a poor offensive line didn’t help, he also was highly ineffective when he did take the field for the Vikings.
With that said, the now-free-agent still presents a risky signing that has the potential to pay off massively. If he’s healthy, Peterson has proven that he can still succeed at an advanced age for a NFL running back. Subsequently, he could possibly put a team in need’s offense over the edge. So then, what does the future hold for the veteran ball-carrier?
Here are five possible free agent destinations for Adrian Peterson.
Dec 27, 2015; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson (28) carries the ball during the first quarter against the New York Giants at TCF Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
5. Minnesota Vikings
We’ll get this out of the way right off the bat. All signs point to the fact that the Vikings are at least going to try and work out a new deal with Peterson. Though there’s the chance that Peterson could end up elsewhere following his release, everyone has to admit that it’d be odd to see him in a non-purple uniform. He’s been with the franchise for his entire career and seeing his NFL run end there seems fitting ultimately.
However, working out a deal with Peterson is going to be tricky for the Vikings. As he’ll be 32 years old when the season starts, Peterson is still looking to see a nice payday given what he did the last season he was fully healthy. What’s more, he’s also savvy and will be looking for as much guaranteed money as possible on a new deal. Meanwhile, the prudent move for the Vikings would be to try and ink All-Day to an incentive-laden deal where he has high earning potential but minimal guaranteed money promised to him.
If negotiations between Peterson and the one team he’s ever played for in the NFL sour early, this would almost become impossible. However, chances are that both parties realize this and will enter negotiations on a level playing field where that scenario is unlikely. Subsequently, Minnesota bringing back Peterson on a more team-friendly contract appears to be an obvious possibility with a solid chance of happening.
January 7, 2017; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks running back Thomas Rawls (34) runs the ball in for a touchdown against the Detroit Lions during the second half in the NFC Wild Card playoff football game at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports
4. Seattle Seahawks
Thomas Rawls and C.J. Prosise were absolutely phenomenal when on the field for the Seattle Seahawks in the 2016 season. That’s even more surprising when you consider how atrocious the offensive line of the Seahawks was this past season. However, the more pressing and concerning issue regarding their running backs is that they can’t stay healthy. So why not complete the All-Injury Team trifecta and add Peterson to that mix?
Jokes aside, any team that signs Peterson knows that they are taking a significant risk with both massive upside and downside. The Seahawks have proven willing to take that type of risk before when it comes to Jimmy Graham and that has started to pay dividends for the offense. Hence, they might be willing to swing for the fences again by trying to bring Peterson to the Pacific Northwest.
Assuming that Peterson could stay relatively healthy and that the Seahawks address their offensive line woes this offseason, this could be an interesting fit. He, Rawls, and Prosise splitting the workload in the backfield could very well be best for all parties involved. What’s more, that’s a trio that could boast tremendous talent and be a nightmare for opposing defenses to prepare for. Seattle would have to work something out to clear up the room to try and land the veteran running back, but it would be a move that has serious potential to it—be it potential to hit a home run or blow up in their face.
Jan 1, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Green Bay Packers running back Ty Montgomery (88) runs the ball against the Detroit Lions during the fourth quarter at Ford Field. Packers won 31-24. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports
3. Ty Montgomery
Eddie Lacy is set to hit free agency following the end of his rookie contract with the Green Bay Packers. In addition to cutting James Starks early in the offseason, all signs point to the Pack letting the former Alabama running back test the market and likely leave the land of the Cheeseheads. That then leaves Ty Montgomery as the No. 1 running back for the offense after he converted from wide receiver in the 2016 season.
Though Montgomery was productive once he slotted into that role and despite the versatility that he adds, he still appears as a player who would be best served as part of a committee—a complementary piece in a backfield with multiple bodies. Thus, there’s a good chance that we see the Packers look to add a running back in some capacity this offseason. That could come through the draft, but it could also mean hitting free agency and Peterson would then be in play.
What also might be overlooked regarding a possible AP-Packers marriage is the personal feelings that might come into play. Peterson seems as if he’s going to give Minnesota a chance to work out a deal to bring him back. Even so, there’s a chance that goes quite poorly and Peterson ends up walking away feeling spiteful. What better way to exact revenge than to sign with the Vikings’ biggest rivals in Green Bay?
Dec 4, 2016; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; New York Giants running back Paul Perkins (28) rushes the ball against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the first quarter at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
2. New York Giants
Most New York Giants fans see this and are probably trying to stifle their vomit a bit right now. That’s a fair assessment as this team isn’t an at-least-relatively-high-priced soon-to-be-32-year-old running back away from winning a Super Bowl. What’s more, they’d likely be better off allocating a limited pool of free agency capital elsewhere after their defensive shopping spree a year ago. NFL Spin Zone’s own Zac Wassink laid out the case for it being a bad idea previously.
With that said, it has to be considered as a possibility. While Peterson and the situation that he presents aren’t necessarily the right fit for the Giants, a viable running back is among the needs for New York. Rookie Paul Perkins showed flashes as he worked his way up the depth chart in 2016, but there’s rightful concern that he can’t shoulder the load of being a three-down back in the NFL. In that regard, Peterson is at least interesting as the duo could form a one-two punch out of the backfield.
Moreover, the Giants proved last season that they are a quality team that is, in fact, on the verge of contending for a Super Bowl once again. That’s the type of situation that the aging Peterson wants to go to if he is to leave the Vikings. So we have a fit in the offense and roster, a team that could look to make a splash in free agency for the second year in a row, and a potentially good fit for what Peterson wants. Even if it’s ill-advised, the Giants should be considered in play.
Dec 11, 2016; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Doug Martin (22) runs with the ball against the New Orleans Saints during the second half at Raymond James Stadium. Tampa Bay Buccaneers defeated the New Orleans Saints 16-11. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
More than any of the other teams on this list, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have more of an opportunity to be frivolous—to a degree, of course—in free agency. Jameis Winston and company finished just shy of the playoffs in the 2016 season, but now have the means to make a jump going into Winston’s third season at the helm. Considering that they have the money to throw around on the open market, they could be a place that draws interest from Peterson.
What’s more, the Buccaneers are going to be in the market for a running back this offseason. Not only has Doug Martin not been the breakout player he was a few years ago at any point recently, but he’s also been oft-injured and was suspended four games at the end of the 2016 season. His release is expected, thus opening up a hole at the top of the depth chart. So if it’s playing time that Peterson is looking for, it’ll be there if he were to travel south to Tampa.
Even better for the Buccaneers is that, even if it’s costly for this season, there’s a chance that they could lock up Peterson to either a one-year deal or a deal with the money front-loaded so they could potentially cut ties after the 2017 season. Considering that age, injury and decline are all concerns with the Vikings great, that would be ideal for them as they’re trying to take the next step. In all areas, it seems like a fit and would be the safest bet as to where All-Day ultimately signs.