Roughly six months removed from a horrific scandal, Adrian Peterson is stealing headlines again. As the NFL Combine wraps up, the chatter among the league about the exciting prospects has been quieted. Instead, fans, coaches and other players alike watch as Peterson begins a war against the Minnesota Vikings. The former MVP was suspended by the NFL this season for beating his three-year old child. Rumors surfaced that Peterson was not happy with his franchise’s response to the allegations and later the support team officials provided. Peterson decided that he no longer wishes to play for the Vikings as it was announced today that his agent had a heated discussion with Vikings’ Vice President of Football Operations that Peterson will never play for the team again.
This whole situation is getting out of hand quickly. Just a few short weeks ago, Vikings’ officials entertained the media, explaining that they were excited to get Peterson back on the field and of course, the team wanted him back. Now, it does not seem like a happy reunion is on the horizon. For the franchise’s all-time leading rusher, his time in the Twin Cities is at an end. I am reading reports that the Vikings are unwilling to trade Peterson and want him to remain with the team. Meanwhile, it appears Peterson has once again made it public that he wants to play for Jerry Jones in Dallas. Time to roll through some possible Peterson scenarios.
What probably will not happen, is the Cowboys landing AP. The Cowboys are cash-strapped and have their own free agent priorities. Peterson will count $15.4 million according to Spotrac, making him just about impossible for the Cowboys to afford. With Dallas ruled out, and we can likely cross off any chance of him going to a division rival, the question remains where else could Peterson wind up next season.
Cleveland could be a major player as this all unfolds. Cleveland has a couple of young backs who have had middling success in a running back by committee setting. Landing Peterson in the backfield could solve a lot of the Browns offensive problems. It certainly makes the job for whomever the Browns have under center, whether it is Johnny Manziel, Brian Hoyer or someone else, infinitely easier. The Browns also have the assets to land a player like Peterson, with two first round picks in this year’s draft and just short of $50 million in cap space. Not likely that Peterson is satisfied with going to a perennial basement dweller in Cleveland but the Browns went 7-9 this year with very little offense. This added boost could be all they need to make it over that playoff hump. And in a year where there are going to be a lot of big name free agents at wide receiver, the Browns could construct a solid offense to pair with their stellar defense.
Another team that has to jump to mind is Indianapolis, with their less than ideal situation at running back The Colts are in the midst of negotiating a new deal for Andrew Luck, but with almost $38 million available for Indy this season, the Colts could afford to land the star rusher. Indianapolis would have to find some assets to send over to Minnesota but judging by the Vikings’ predicament, the deal might come off a little cheaper than would be usually expected. Unfortunately, the Colts will likely want to save their picks and cap space to bolster their defense. Still would be a great fit.
Two last wildcards to land the veteran running back are San Diego and Seattle. With all of the injuries the Chargers had at running back this past season, a sturdy replacement could make sense. Giving Philip Rivers an elite rusher that he hasn’t had since Ladanian Tomlinson left the Chargers could make this offense incredibly scary. For Seattle, the only reason this is even being mentioned is because of the situation surrounding Marshawn Lynch. Lynch is apparently mulling retirement and if the Seahawks believe he is heading out of the league, they could make a splash to land another massive star in their backfield. Not overly likely, with Russell Wilson’s contract yet to be decided but still would fit a need if Lynch did in fact call it quits.
With all of this turmoil and chaos surrounding Peterson at the moment, I think it will eventually just blow over. There are few teams in the NFL willing to pay upwards of $15 million for a running back. Not to mention that after a year out of the league and Peterson not getting any younger, it might be difficult to find a buyer at his expensive price tag. In reality, I think the Vikings’ will find a way to smooth things over down the line and get their priced ball carrier back in a purple uniform. Still, with the NFL you never know, so this should be a fun situation to keep an eye on.