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3 best free agency fits for Adrian Peterson

Andrew Buller-Russ

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If this were 2015, after leading the NFL in rushing, Adrian Peterson hitting free agency would have spawned a bidding war between teams vying for the former MVP’s services. Alas six years later, Peterson is now 36 and finds himself relegated to part-time duty in a shared backfield role on Sundays. 

While some backs may think of retiring after 14 NFL seasons of physical ground-and-pound football, not All Day. As he said this offseason, AP hopes to play into his 40’s

No longer a major part of any team’s plans, Peterson may have to wait until after the 2021 NFL Draft concludes to find a new locker room. 

With that said, here are three teams who shouldn’t hesitate to sign the seven-time Pro Bowl running back right now.

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Pittsburgh Steelers bring back power running game

3 best free agency fits for Adrian Peterson: Pittsburgh Steelers
Jan 10, 2021; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) calls a play in the huddle against the Cleveland Browns during the first quarter at Heinz Field. The Browns won 48-37. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

It’s time the Steelers bring back the thunder to their offensive approach. James Conner hit free agency and though he has yet to sign elsewhere, Pittsburgh may not have the cap space to keep him home.

Enter Adrian Peterson. While AD himself has suggested Pittsburgh would be a good landing spot during an interview on The Pat McAfee Show, the Steelers would also benefit from a bargain bin addition with their cap troubles. 

Among the 32 NFL offenses in 2020, the Steelers finished the year with the fewest yards per carry and the least total rushing yards as a team. This offseason, the Steelers have done nothing personnel-wise to solve their running woes from the previous year. 

If Conner signs elsewhere, bringing in AP at the very least allows the Steelers to enter their season with a proven starter who has eight 1,000 yard seasons on his resume.

Arizona Cardinals: Adrian Peterson returns to chase Super Bowl

Nov 19, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; Arizona Cardinals running back Adrian Peterson (23) runs with the ball during the first half against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

With Kenyan Drake signing with the Las Vegas Raiders in free agency, the Arizona Cardinals need a new bell cow so that Kyler Murray isn’t putting himself in harm’s way too often as a ball-carrier. Chase Edmonds is a solid option to soak up some carries, but isn’t likely to dominate the workload in all facets of the game. 

One particular area the Cardinals could improve is running near the goal line. This is where Adrian Peterson can still shine in 2021. Built like a rock, Peterson is fourth in NFL history with 118 rushing touchdowns in his career.

Signing with the Cardinals may represent AP’s best opportunity to both fit into a consistent role while chasing a Super Bowl ring. In a year where Arizona has brought in several recognizable names such as A.J. Green and J.J. Watt, Peterson could add to the hype currently building in the desert.

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Kansas City Chiefs add more Hall of Fame talent on offense

3 best free agency fits for Adrian Peterson: Kansas City Chiefs
Jan 24, 2021; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) celebrates during the fourth quarter in the AFC Championship Game against the Buffalo Bills at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

At first glance, Kansas City may seem like a strange fit with Clyde Edwards-Helaire set to run away with the lead gig. But behind CEH, there isn’t much depth. Damien Williams was given his walking papers, while Le’Veon Bell remains unsigned.

Offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy coached AP from 2007-2010 in Minnesota. In that time, Peterson won Rookie of the Year, made the Pro Bowl four times, and topped 1,000 yards each season.

The Bieniemy-Peterson pairing was an overwhelming success. If AP doesn’t receive a deal offering a decent role, it’s possible he will look to reunite with an old friend. The chance to return to the playoffs for the first time since 2015 may be too good to pass up for Peterson. 

In an interview on the Pat McAfee Show cited earlier, Peterson said, “Kansas City would be awesome” when he was asked about potential free-agent suitors.

Agreed. Having a bulkier back like Peterson to balance out the Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes-led passing attack would be phenomenal to watch. Imagine the thunder-and-lightning combo AP and CEH could be.

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