With NFL free agency unofficially set to begin today, giving Adrian Peterson a chance to choose his team for 2017 and beyond, he might have more boxes he would like to check than serious suitors for his services.
Peterson, soon to be 32 and coming off a significant knee injury, has suggested he still feels he should be one of the NFL’s highest-paid running backs and believes that he should continue to be the focal point of someone’s offense.
And Peterson, who has been a part of one career playoff win, hopes to play for a Super Bowl contender, one with a good head coach and a good defense.
He wouldn’t mind playing for one of the teams in his home state of Texas, too.
Anything else you’re looking for, Adrian?
Considering all that while looking at the NFL landscape, it appears that Peterson could get a reality check Tuesday at 11 a.m. when the NFL’s two-day negotiation window opens, allowing teams to discuss contract terms with the agents for other teams’ free agents. But, as the old saying in this league goes, it only takes one team …
After a long week with NFL decision-makers, player agents and reporters mixing it up until the early mornings in Indianapolis watering holes at the NFL scouting combine, no clear suitors for Peterson have publicly emerged.
Reports and rumors out of the combine, which wrapped up Monday, regarding Peterson have been about the teams that have caught his eye, not the other way around.
The Boston Herald, citing a source close to Peterson, said the running back was receptive to accepting less money to go chase a ring with the New England Patriots. But it would probably have to be way less than he made in 2016. Coach Bill Belichick has not given big bucks to a veteran back since Corey Dillon in 2005.
One ESPN report said Peterson is intrigued by the Oakland Raiders, who have one of the NFL’s best offensive lines and a quality young quarterback in Derek Carr. Asked about that report, Raiders coach Jack Del Rio said it was a sign of how far the Raiders have come. He did not say, however, if the feeling was mutual.
New York Giants coach Ben McAdoo said in Indianapolis that they would look into Peterson, just like they would with every other free agent. Soon afterward, reports out of New York emerged downplaying the Giants’ potential interest.
Ditto for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, according to another ESPN report.
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has long been infatuated with bringing Peterson home to Texas. But their talented young running back, Ezekiel Elliott, just led the NFL in rushing as a rookie. The Houston Texans, the other NFL team in Peterson’s home state, splurged last offseason for a free-agent running back, Lamar Miller.
Factor in a draft class of running backs that Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman has said is the best he has ever seen, and it doesn’t seem like there will be many, if any, NFL teams that want to hand out a big contract to a fading superstar who played only three games last season and has struggled to run out of the shotgun.
And if interest in Peterson is indeed tepid, at what price would the prideful back be willing to return to the Vikings, who have not closed the door on a reunion after they opted last week to not exercise his $18 million team option for 2017?
While the Vikings allow Peterson to gauge his value on the open market for the first time in his 10-year career, they will focus on fixing their offensive line. Despite cutting starting right guard Brandon Fusco last month, they are expected to prioritize the offensive tackle spot, after going through several players there in 2016.
Cincinnati’s Andrew Whitworth, Baltimore’s Rick Wagner and Detroit’s Riley Reiff are among the top free-agent tackles. The Vikings can begin formal negotiations with agents Tuesday, but no deal can be signed until 3 p.m. Twin Cities time on Thursday.
The Vikings are, however, allowed to re-sign their own free agents, who include left tackle Matt Kalil, cornerbacks Captain Munnerlyn and Terence Newman, wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson and punter Jeff Locke. As of Monday night, no deals with any of those soon-to-be free agents seemed imminent.
They also have not declared how they will tender restricted free agent Adam Thielen. But it would be a surprise if they did not use the higher second-round tender on the wide receiver after his breakout season, discouraging others from making an offer.