It wasn’t a surprise to anyone — including Adrian Peterson — that the Minnesota Vikings declined to pick up his $18 million option for 2017. That’s a lot of money to pay for a 32-year-old running back coming off of a season-ending knee injury. Peterson is hitting free agency in a year when not many teams are looking for a running back.
Peterson’s dad, Nelson Peterson, spoke with Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press and hinted at what his son will be looking for as he searches for a new NFL home.
First of all, don’t rule out a return to the Vikings. While $18 million seems like too much to pay a running back who averaged nine missed games per season over the past three years, Minnesota could bring Peterson back for a reduced amount.
Peterson’s father said as much, confirming that Peterson would like to stay with the Vikings if Minnesota addresses its weaknesses along the offensive line.
“You have to improve the offensive line,’’ Nelson Peterson said, via Tomasson. “What is happening now is so unfair to Adrian.”
Vikings general manager Rick Spielman said Tuesday that shoring up the offensive line is a priority this offseason.
The Vikings have not yet made an offer to Peterson, but his agent, Ben Dogra, and Spielman are set to meet at the NFL Combine.
Odds of signing Peterson: 8/10
If it doesn’t work out with the Vikings, Peterson’s father mentioned plenty of other potential destinations for the running back.
The Cowboys are pretty well set at the running back position with Ezekiel Elliott, who led the league in rushing yards last season. Dallas also has Alfred Morris under contract through the 2017, so this is not a terrible possibility for Peterson, who wouldn’t be relied upon as the main guy in the rushing attack.
Peterson also hails from Palestine, Texas, which is approximately two hours from Dallas. But the Cowboys currently have just about $6.5 million in cap space to work with, which may be a stumbling block.
Odds of signing Peterson: 4/10
Peterson’s hometown of Palestine is just 152 miles from Houston, which would also make the Texans a close-to-home destination for Peterson.
The Texans have Lamar Miller and Alfred Blue currently under contract, but they have a whole lot of uncertainty at the quarterback position. Houston has a ton of money locked up in Brock Osweiler, and with just under $27 million in cap space and Miller on a four-year, $26 million contract, it may not be the most logical place for Peterson.
Odds of signing Peterson: 3/10
New York Giants
The Giants could use some help in the backfield. They finished the 2016 season near the bottom of the league after averaging just 88.2 yards per game. Peterson has tweeted about the Giants, and it seemed connected to the team’s decision to part ways with Rashad Jennings, so New York may be on his mind as an option.
New York has plenty of available cap space and running back is a true need, but it would be irresponsible to overlook that Ben McAdoo’s offense isn’t the best fit for Peterson’s skill set.
Odds of signing Peterson: 5/10
Green Bay Packers
Remember when longtime Packers quarterback Brett Favre went to Minnesota? It’s just as difficult to imagine Adrian Peterson in a Packers uniform, but it’s not out of the question.
Peterson’s father said it would be difficult for Peterson to go to a rival, but there are plenty of reasons Green Bay holds appeal for the running back.
Peterson dad on Packers "It's a dream team if he has an opportunity to be in the backfield with Aaron Rodgers Somebody he'd have to look at"— Chris Tomasson (@christomasson) February 28, 2017
The Packers had to transition Ty Montgomery from wideout to running back just to carry the load with Lacy sidelined with an ankle injury. Now Lacy’s hitting free agency, and running back is definitely a need for Green Bay.
Odds of signing Peterson: 6/10
The Raiders have one of the best offensive lines in football, and Oakland should have quarterback Derek Carr back and fully recovered from the broken fibula he suffered near the end of the 2016 season. Latavius Murray, the team’s leading rusher last season, is hitting free agency, so there’s a need in Oakland.
Oakland has plenty of cap space, with nearly $49 million to work with to fill needs this offseason. This is a spot that could work for the veteran running back.
Odds of signing Peterson: 7/10
New England Patriots
Peterson’s father also said Peterson wants to play for a contender, which is a common theme for aging free agents. Who wouldn’t want an opportunity to win a championship in the twilight of their career?
The Patriots won Super Bowl 51 with the help of a combined rushing effort from LeGarrette Blount, Dion Lewis and James White. Blount is a free agent, but he was New England’s leading rusher last season, and would like to remain in New England if possible. The Patriots aren’t in the habit of giving generous contracts to aging players, so unless Peterson is willing to work out a team-friendly deal, this one might not be in the cards.
Odds of signing Peterson: 2/10
We can rule one team out for Peterson right off the bat.
So consider the Cleveland Browns definitely the first team out of the mix for Adrian Peterson.— Chris Tomasson (@christomasson) February 28, 2017
Sorry, Browns fans.
Odds of signing Peterson: 0/10