Written By: Dennis Vilimek – Staff Writing Intern (@ )
It was fairly predictable that the Vikings weren’t going to exercise their 2017 option on Adrian Peterson’s contract, and it is now official. This does not necessarily mean that he will leave Minnesota and there is a good chance he stays, but he will likely get more money elsewhere. Adrian Peterson will be 32 by the start of the next season, but he can still be an impact running back on the right team. He is a future hall of famer and could be a big improvement to many teams in the league right now.
Peterson named a few destinations in January, which were the Bucs, Giants, and Texans. There has also been speculation that the Cowboys are interested in signing him, but I don’t think that is a very good fit. The Cowboys run the ball a lot, but they already have a great young back in Zeke, and it would be unfair for either player to have to split carries. My top three destinations for AP, in no particular order, are based mostly on how well he would improve the team he joins.
| New York Giants
There are a few reasons that the Giants make this list. First of all, AP already seemed interested in joining this team before the Vikings said they weren’t going to exercise their option on his contract, so he might be willing to take less money to play for this team. The biggest reason this is a good spot for him is because the Giants have been consistently brutal at running the ball.
Last year they finished 29th in rushing yards per game, and they recently cut Rashad Jennings. The two running backs he would be competing with are Paul Perkins and Shane Vereen, not exactly elite backs. Teams haven’t really had to worry about the Giants rushing attack for years, as their last somewhat solid backs were Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw.
This is a team with very talented receivers, a good quarterback (sometimes), and a strong defense. Add a consistent rushing game to this team and they could be contenders. This offense needs some sort of boost after ranking near the bottom of the league in points per game, and just having Adrian Peterson in the backfield opens up their passing game and could scare opposing defenses.
| Green Bay Packers
As much as the rest of the NFC North would hate this move, it is a very good fit. The Packer’s only running back under contract in 2017 is Ty Montgomery, and he’s not even a true NFL running back. While Montgomery did a fine job in the backfield last year, he is no Adrian Peterson.
The Packers struggled at times to get any sort of running game going last year and were still dominant on offense in the second half of the season. With AP on the roster, Montgomery could go back to his receiver spot and still get some snaps in the backfield to create a more dynamic duo.
Having a QB like Rodgers will be much different from the mediocre guys he played next to during his career in Minnesota. Teams would have to respect the running game immediately with AP in the backfield, and that can create a lot of problems for opposing defenses. If the Packers are willing to take the risk and pay him, Peterson could immediately go to a contender.
| Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Another team that Peterson mentioned as a destination, the Bucs may choose to take a chance on AP instead of Doug Martin. Martin is in rehab and is serving a three-game suspension to start the season, so it is reasonable to believe that the Bucs may cut ties even if they don’t sign a guy like AP.
Their other running back, Jacquizz Rodgers, is an unrestricted free agent and could also resign with the team. He was the leading rusher on the team with just 560 yards, so this team doesn’t necessarily have a strong lead back at the moment. The Bucs have many options including the draft, but AP may be worth the risk.
This team is on the verge of making the playoffs with some solid pieces on offense like the duo of Winston and Evans. They were in the bottom half of the league in rushing yards per game, and a threat like AP could immediately improve their offense and help out a young Jameis Winston.
Honorable Mentions: Patriots, Texans, Broncos