Adrian Peterson’s Valentine tweet to the New York Giants is the latest reminder that he’ll probably be wearing a color other than purple come St. Patrick’s Day.
The Vikings are not going to pay Peterson $18 million this year, and he seems prepared to be offended by lower offers, so he probably soon will be on the open market, driven to prove his old team wrong about his worth.
Just in case Peterson doesn’t conduct all of his negotiations via Twitter, here’s a list of the teams I believe he is most likely to play for next season:
1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Lead back Doug Martin will be suspended for the first three games of this season and averaged 2.9 yards per carry last year. Charles Sims is a third-down back. Otherwise the Bucs are desperate for a workhorse runner.
In his perfect world, Peterson, a Texas native, would play for the Dallas Cowboys, Houston Texans or perhaps even the New Orleans Saints. None of those teams is a likely suitor, so playing for a rising team on grass in warm weather might be the next best thing.
2. New York Giants: I know. Too easy, after his tweet that read, “The Giants been making some interesting moves.” But this match makes sense.
The Giants went to the playoffs last year. They have excellent receivers who can spread the field. Their quarterback has won two Super Bowls. And Peterson might be the kind of guy who thinks that playing for a team called “New York” could benefit him in the endorsement world, even though the team actually plays and practices in New Jersey and most of the billboards in Times Square feature international stars.
The Giants were terrible at running the ball last year. Paul Perkins is their best back, but he profiles as a third-down specialist. Peterson, if healthy, could have a big year near New York.
3. Detroit Lions: Matthew Stafford is playing brilliantly, the Lions don’t have a worthwhile lead back and Peterson would get to play the Vikings twice. But would Peterson want to stay in the cold North?
4. Green Bay Packers: Peterson probably would like to pull a reverse-Favre and haunt the Vikings. On the surface, this would make sense. Peterson would go to a winning team and play with a great quarterback and a good offensive line.
This is where Peterson’s limitations could hurt him. He is a poor pass blocker and a mediocre receiver. The Packers are better off with the versatile Ty Montgomery.
Peterson has mentioned playing for Houston. But Lamar Miller had a good season and is younger and more versatile than Peterson.
5. Seattle Seahawks: Peterson could play Marshawn Lynch’s role and be reunited with Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, who coached Peterson in Minnesota.
But Thomas Rawls and C.J. Prosise are younger and probably more dynamic than Peterson, and they’re cheap. Those speculating that the Seahawks would be better with Peterson are remembering what he used to be, not projecting what he will be at 32.
6. New England Patriots: The Patriots have won two Super Bowls in three years with LeGarrette Blount as their lead back. Blount is a free agent. If I were the Patriots, I’d stick with Blount. Given the complexity of the Patriots offense, I think Bill Belichick will, too. Peterson might run well for the Patriots, but I wouldn’t want to trust him to handle every aspect of protecting and helping Tom Brady.
7. Dallas Cowboys: Peterson would be an ideal backup behind Ezekiel Elliott and a powerhouse offensive line. But if he leaves the Vikings it will be because he feels insulted. Would he then want to swallow his pride and admit he’s a backup?
Peterson is about to receive a reality check. He is unlikely to play exactly where he wants or for exactly what he wants two seasons after leading the NFL in rushing. At his next birthday party, he might not be able to afford to rent a camel.
Jim Souhan’s podcast can be heard at MalePatternPodcasts.com. On Twitter: @SouhanStrib Email: firstname.lastname@example.org