It was just over a week ago that I sat here and wrote an article for Vikings Journal that laid out the chances that Adrian Peterson would be back with the Vikings at better than 50/50. We spent a week going over different aspects of bringing him back and tried our best to determine if it was worth bringing him back. Well, things have changed.
With the release of Ben Goessling’s ESPN.com article on Thursday evening, it’s looking less and less likely that Adrian will be back with the team come opening weekend 2015.
Still feeling as though Minnesota has wronged him and that the Vikings have wronged him through this trial, Peterson was very open about his uneasiness with returning to the Vikings.
After all that this has put the organization, the fans, AND YOUR SON through, stop playing the victim Adrian.
Anyways, on the surface, the tide has changed and it’s looking like Adrian will not be donning the Minnesota purple next season. I’m hearing through the backchannels the same things and that the team is testing the waters to see who’s interested in a trade. One way or another, the Vikings will attempt to move Adrian Peterson. The question now is, how can they maximize his value.
He’s still arguably the best running back in the league. He’ll have a year less of wear and tear on his body compared to most 30-year old backs. But how much is he realistically worth? As most trades in the NFL do, it will likely contain future draft picks rather than current players. You’re likely to have some interested buyers out there dangling a 2nd round pick in front of your nose, but I believe you can get more. I believe that you can find a team that thinks they are a running back away from a championship and leverage the situation. Leverage the fact that AP is a former MVP. Leverage the fact that he still runs with a full head of steam. Leverage all of it. It might be less likely, but it’s not outlandish to think that if you cover a portion of the cap hit, you could get a 1st and 4th round pick in return for Adrian Peterson.
But who are those teams? Who are the squads that think Adrian Peterson may be the missing piece to their Super Bowl puzzle? Below I’ve outlined five options, five teams that should have interest in Adrian Peterson. And if they don’t, the Vikings should be picking up the phone and doing their best to convince them that they do.
We’ll get the most obvious out of the way first. It’s a perfect fit for the team and the player, but is Peterson to Dallas too good to be true? The Cowboys are still leary of acting on Demarco Murray but would they be willing to splash a little bit with Peterson? He’s more accomplished, he’s more talented, the only knock on AP compared to Murray is the age. If Peterson agrees to a slight pay cut and the Vikings cover a portion of the hit, Peterson could sport the silver and blue and return home to play for his childhood squad. Tony Romo gets a slight upgrade at the running back spot, Jerry Jones sells a bazillion jerseys and tickets and Peterson gets to make a run at a Super Bowl immediately. Seems like a perfect match.
The next most likely landing spot appears to be the Seattle Seahawks. Why? Because it legitimately looks like Marshawn Lynch is considering retirement...or at the very least testing the free agent market. But this retirement thing, he’s not joking about that either. So if Lynch goes the way of Barry Sanders, there’s another void at the running back spot for a team that is interested in contending for a Super Bowl next year. They’d have to find a way to come up with the money because while Lynch would clear some cap space, they also have to fork over some dough to quarterback Russell Wilson this summer. The pipeline between Minnesota and Seattle is already greased and the phones are still fresh. Peterson has no ties to the upper northwest outside of former offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, but the lure of Lombardi might be enough to make the decision a little easier.
How about Indy! The NFL world has been converging upon the city this past week so let’s not forget to include them here as well. Another team lacking any semblance of a rushing attack last season, the Colts should be convinced by now that Trent Richardson is not the answer. Stuck in a position where they don’t want to waste the prime years of Andrew Luck’s career, the Colts might believe they are a running back away from making a deep run. In reality, they are a cornerback, two linebackers and a defensive line away from making that run, but this isn’t ColtsJournal.com so we’ll leave that alone for now. The Colts will have somewhere in the ballpark of $35 million to work with in cap space, so make a bid. You can handle the contract as is and Peterson could help you get that edge over Brady that you didn’t have in the AFC Championship game this year...that slight, slight 38-point edge.
Maybe the dark-horse amongst this group, the Arizona Cardinals. Quite the opposite approach from Indy, the Cardinals have a dominant defense with a piece-mailed offensive unit hanging on the thread of an ACL that Carson Palmer has left. That said, if Palmer stays healthy, Arizona has proven that they can compete. Bringing in Peterson would take a little pressure off the injury-prone QB and should open up the rest of the offense as well. The Cardinals made it to the playoffs this season with their third-string QB...Adrian could help this team and could do it immediately.
San Diego Chargers
Now for the off-the-wall, stab in the dark pick. The San Diego Chargers. Normally competitive in the AFC West division, the Chargers organization is not unfamiliar with the impact that a dominant running back can have on the game. It’s time for the Ryan Mathews experiment to end and maybe time for the Adrian Peterson experiment to begin?!? Picking 17th overall, the Chargers could wait and take a stab at Melvin Gordon but will he be ready to contribute right away? I know someone who will, Adrian Peterson. Flip that pick to the Vikings, get a running back that can play right away and utilize that pairing with Philip Rivers while he’s still effective.
From the Vikings perspective, which option would be best? With none of the teams listed above currently holding multiple first round picks, you have to look at the Chargers as holding the most benefit for the Vikings simply because they pick at 17. The Cardinals pick 24th, Cowboys 27th, Colts 29th and Seahawks 31st. Realistically though, if any of these teams is willing to dish out their first round pick couple with a 3rd, but more likely a 4th, run to the bank Minnesota. Take the bait, take the trade, take the cap reprieve and move on.
It appears that Adrian Peterson already has...