Raiders, Cowboys Emerge as Front-Runners for RB Adrian Peterson

[mks_dropcap style=”square” size=”52″ bg_color=”#dd3333″ txt_color=”#ffffff”]W[/mks_dropcap]ith running back Adrian Peterson reinstated into the NFL this week, the messy business of where he may play in 2015 has heated up in a far more tangible manner than it did during his time on the Commissioner’s Exempt List.

Peterson, who missed all but one game in 2014 while being on said list, is the subject of a child-injury investigation stemming from using a switch to discipline his four-year old child. But teams—at least a handful of them—aren’t concerned about the charges, given the opportunity to land one of the NFL’s most talented running backs.

Though the Minnesota Vikings would like to keep him on their roster, bad blood between the two sides made an amicable reunion difficult. More likely would be for the Vikings to accept a trade offer for Peterson. The Dallas Cowboys have long been believed to be a landing spot, especially after losing DeMarco Murray in free agency. However, the financial situation could limit their ability to make a play.

[mks_pullquote align=”right” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#dd3333″ txt_color=”#ffffff”]Peterson is slated to make $12.75 million in base salary on his current contract for 2015, $14.75 for 2016 and $16.75 for 2017.[/mks_pullquote]Bleacher Report’s Mike Freeman spoke with two NFL general managers, and they believe three teams are players in the Peterson market: the Cowboys, the Oakland Raiders and the Arizona Cardinals. The former two seem to be the most invested in their interest in Peterson: “The Cowboys are the front-runners, but I actually believe the Raiders are right there,” said one GM to Freeman.

Peterson is slated to make $12.75 million in base salary on his current contract for 2015, $14.75 for 2016 and $16.75 for 2017. Any team that trades for him will, it is assumed, be on the hook for at least the $12.75 million this year; the future years may be able to be negotiated down or at the very least, restructured.

Thus, said Freeman’s anonymous GM, “Few teams will be willing to take him, at his age [29 years], with that salary.”

The Cowboys most certainly couldn’t do it at the current price, given that they have just over the $12.75 Peterson is slated to make this year in salary cap room. The Raiders, on the other hand, have twice the cap space, more than enough to accommodate Peterson’s cap hit this year, should they not want to renegotiate until after 2015.

Yahoo Sports’ Charles Robinson believes it will take “at least” a second-round draft pick for the Vikings to relinquish Peterson to another team, while ESPN’s John Clayton believes the best that the Vikings can expect to get in trade is a fourth-round pick.

The Vikings are also hesitant to move on from Peterson who, despite his legal issues and what he is accused of having done, would very much prefer to keep the Hall of Fame-caliber player as part of their offense this year. But the bridges may have already been burned. Now, it’s a matter of what kind of compensation Minnesota may be able to get in trade for Peterson and whether interested teams can talk his contract down, whether that’s his 2015 cap hit (which it will have to be for Dallas) or in the following two years (should the Raiders win out).