Adrian Peterson Free Agency
After one of the most decades we’ve ever seen from an NFL running back, free agent Adrian Peterson has spent the past couple seasons looking for a legitimate role on an NFL roster, but has failed to meet the expectations of multiple teams.
Excluding a suspension-filled 2014 season and an injury-filled 2016 season, “All Day” averaged 1560 rushing yards and 13 rushing touchdowns per 16 games during his Hall of Fame tenure with the Minnesota Vikings (2007-2016), highlighted by his 2012 campaign, which featured 2097 yards and 12 touchdowns on the ground.
When Minnesota declined to pick up Peterson’s 2017 option, he spent that season seeking his former dominance, but the search amounted to nothing more than a series of shots in the dark. After signing a two-year, $7 million contract with New Orleans and getting just 27 carries for 81 yards through four games, the Saints traded him to Arizona for a measly conditional sixth round draft pick. He found more success in the desert, rushing for 448 yards in six games (including a 159 yard performance in Week 8 against San Francisco), but he still only averaged 3.5 yards per carry. He didn’t play for the rest of the season after Week 11 due to a neck injury, and the Cardinals released him in March.
However, Peterson isn’t acting like his NFL career should end just yet, and while he is a shell of his former self, there are a few organizations with which signing a short term deal would make sense.
While the Texans don’t necessarily need another running back, as Lamar Miller has been sufficient during the 2016 and 2017 seasons, Peterson has made some noise about playing in Houston in 2018. He lives there, his mother lives there, and he feels it would just make sense; in addition, he grew up in Palestine, Texas, a small town a few hours north. The Houston Texans are about as good a team as any for Adrian Peterson to end his career with.
A couple hours on the other side of Palestine, however, is Dallas, and the Cowboys need another running back more than the Texans do. The team declined to resign former backup Alfred Morris, meaning starter Ezekiel Elliott hardly has any protection anymore. And while Peterson and Elliott both have histories with abuse, as long as they’ve moved past those issues then Peterson can serve as an on-field role model for Elliott, and the two could make for a pretty scary duo.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Adrian Peterson has no significant connection to central Florida, but the Buccaneers could use a veteran presence in the backfield, and he could provide just that. Tampa Bay failed to produce a back with more than 500 rushing yards last season, and the team as a whole combined for just eight rushing touchdowns. In addition, the organization parted ways with Doug Martin after he failed to average three yards per carry for the second consecutive season. Peyton Barber and Jacquizz Rodgers will split time with rookie Ronald Jones, but the addition of Peterson could turn an awful running team into a half-respectable one, if everything goes right.
Detroit had possibly the worst rushing offense in the NFL in 2017, ranking dead last in yards (1221) and yards per attempt (3.4) while only scoring 10 touchdowns. Ameer Abdullah is simply not an adequate starter, and while the organization added veteran LaGarrette Blount in the offseason, his streakiness has shown he’s not nearly enough to give the Lions a decent running game. Peterson may not add a whole lot to this organization, but he would add something, and it would be interesting to see him play the Vikings twice this year.
On that note, who wouldn’t want to see Adrian Peterson rep the purple again? Latavius Murray is a solid starter, and the team has a strong group of backups (the team rushed for 1957 yards in 2017, good for seventh in the NFL), but seeing Peterson to the end of his Hall of Fame career in Minnesota would just feel right.