It seems to be a foregone conclusion that Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson will not be back with the team next season.
Peterson is coming off a 2016 campaign that saw him miss all but three games to injury. In fact, the 31-year-old running back has played in a total of 20 games since the end of the 2013 season.
Peterson is also set to count $18 million against the cap in 2017 should the Vikings exercise his option next month. That seems highly unlikely at this point.
Despite his recent injury issues, Peterson is just one season removed from leading the NFL in rush attempts (327), rushing yards (1,485) and rushing touchdowns (11). Needless to say, there would be some solid interest in him on the open market.
In discussing this possibility, Peterson mentioned three teams that he’s interested in potentially joining.
On ESPN, Peterson tabbed his hometown Texans, Bucs and Giants as teams he has interest in. Currently under contract for unrealistic $18M
— Andrew Krammer (@Andrew_Krammer) January 19, 2017
Outside of the Houston Texans, these all seem to be pretty decent fits. Houston just signed Lamar Miller to a four-year, $26 million contract last spring. He’s coming off a 1,261 total yard performance for the Texans this past season and seems to be the team’s future at running back.
However, both the New York Giants and Tampa Bay Buccaneers would make sense. New York is missing that three-down back after seeing the likes of Rashad Jennings and Paul Perkins split a majority of the time in the backfield this past regular season. All said, New York’s offense finished 29th in the NFL on the ground.
For the Buccaneers, it’s a bit less clear. Doug Martin was just recently suspended four games for violating the league’s substance abuse policy (more on that here).
This enables Tampa Bay to move on from Martin without paying him a cent of guaranteed money. The team could easily swap Martin out for Peterson and find a likely upgrade at running back.
At the very least, we now know Peterson is thinking about his future after Minnesota. That in and of itself could indicate that he’s as good as gone.