A frenzy of trades and free agent signings made for a stunning day in the NFL, clearing the stage for two great running backs who played at the University of Oklahoma.
Tuesday, the Vikings announced that they had re-signed running back Matt Asiata, and the team agreed to terms with offensive lineman Joe Berger and backup quarterback Shaun Hill. The excitement of these moves could be eclipsed only by a contract extension for punter Jeff Locke.
While the Vikings were playing pull-tabs, other teams were acquiring second mortgages to play roulette in Vegas.
Patrick Willis, the best linebacker of the decade, retired.
Jimmy Graham, the most prolific pass-catching tight end through the first five seasons of a career, was traded to a team that came within one completion of winning a second straight Super Bowl.
Darrelle Revis, perhaps the best cornerback in the NFL, became a free agent and then rejoined the Jets.
Eagles coach Chip Kelly traded his quarterback (Nick Foles), lost his best receiver (Jeremy Maclin) in free agency and traded his best running back (LeSean McCoy) one season after trading his best deep threat (DeSean Jackson).
Ndamukong Suh, the best defensive tackle in football, signed with Miami, causing Detroit to replace him by trading for Baltimore’s Haloti Ngata, a dominant player in his own right.
Frank Gore spurned Philadelphia and got on a plane owned by Colts owner Jim Irsay with receiver Andre Johnson, as Indianapolis prepared to sign two past-their-prime offensive pieces to help quarterback Andrew Luck.
Receiver Torrey Smith left Baltimore for a 49ers team that appears to be imploding.
Prodigal receiver Percy Harvin was released by the Jets, meaning one of the most talented players in the game soon will be playing for a fourth team, leaving him one shy of the number Randy Moss played for.
All of which only heightened the suspense regarding two of the NFL’s best running backs, DeMarco Murray and Adrian Peterson, two former Sooners who have lived in Texas.
Murray, who led the league in rushing last season, drew reported interest from the Eagles, while Peterson flew to New York to meet with Vikings ownership.
Days like Tuesday are the reason the NFL rules American sports. It couldn’t have been more fascinating had it been scripted. On a weekday in March, the NFL dominated the news cycle — after rumors of these moves dominated the previous week’s news cycles.
Now Murray and Peterson become the prime chips in this league-wide Texas hold ’em. If the Vikings can’t win Peterson’s heart and mind, the two could be tied by more than their University of Oklahoma roots.
Murray is a free agent. He has removed all mentions of the Cowboys from his Twitter account. Usually, once a player reaches free agency, he chooses to sign with a new team.
If Murray leaves Dallas, the Cowboys, who reached the playoffs because of their power running game last year, will be looking for a power back.
The Cowboys’ public statements have indicated they wanted Murray back. That is difficult to believe. Late last season, when given a chance to rest Murray, Dalals ran him into the turf.
They treated him more like a cheap rental car than a franchise player. They treated him like they didn’t expect to have him back in 2015.
Last summer, ESPN reported that Adrian Peterson called Cowboys owner Jerry Jones. Peterson grew up in Tyler, Texas, which is Cowboys country, and Jones loves big names. While Minnesotans are likely to stage protests over Peterson beating his son should he return to the Vikings next season, corporal punishment is viewed much more kindly in Texas.
As well as Murray played last year, he is not Peterson’s equal as a runner. And while Murray should be expected to have the kind of downturn usually suffered by overworked running backs, Peterson hasn’t played in a game since Sept. 7.
The Cowboys letting Murray leave after a career year? The Vikings trading Peterson to the Cowboys?
Those moves might seem unthinkable … but they would be no more surprising than a half-dozen developments in the NFL on Tuesday.