There are lots of good reasons not to sign Adrian Peterson. He’s coming off a season largely lost to a torn meniscus. Between injury and suspension, he’s only appeared in 20 games over the last three seasons. He’ll turn 32 years old this month. He...you know. And yet he’s trying his damndest to drum up a market.
Peterson’s a name, with a track record, and teams can be as susceptible to the lures of past glory as fans are. And it was only two years ago, his last full season, that he rushed for 1,485 yards on a perfectly good 4.5 yards per carry. There are plenty of teams who could use a power back, especially one with something to prove and the desire to seek a title—and the accompanying willingness to accept a cheap deal to facilitate both. Is that Peterson? He certainly wants them to believe it is.
Peterson’s father has been pretty chatty about his son’s potential destinations, and Nelson Peterson sure seems to be acting as a mouthpiece in this interview with the St. Paul Pioneer Press. And he lists three teams that he claims Adrian Peterson is intrigued by: the Raiders, the Seahawks, and the Patriots.
“What we personally like is (the Raiders’) offensive line,” said Nelson Peterson. “The offensive line, they haven’t been playing around. They haven’t been trying to get offensive linemen from the bottom of the barrel and trying to make them into something.”
The Raiders are definitely a playoff-caliber team, and they have one of the league’s better offensive lines, and they may have an opening: Oakland is allowing Latavius Murray to hit free agency, which is standard practice for them, and may not bring him back after a highly successful season that saw him carry the ball 195 times and score 12 touchdowns to lead a three-back rotation.
But the Raiders (and the Seahawks) also feature something Peterson wouldn’t find very attractive. As CBS Sports’ John Breech notes, both teams run out of the shotgun more than two-thirds of the time. As a straight-ahead runner, this doesn’t mesh with Peterson’s skill set, and his last couple of seasons in Minnesota were dominated by his attempts to adapt to working out of the shotgun. (He was not very good at it.)
So what’s to recommend the Seahawks, if they line up in a formation that doesn’t suit Peterson, and their run-blocking is some of the worst in the NFL? It appears to be just the familiarity with offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, who was OC in Minnesota for Peterson’s first four seasons in the league.
That brings us to the Patriots, who are invariably mentioned any time some once-useful veteran hits the market, thanks to their (questionably deserved) reputation for getting throwback performances out of players the rest of the league things are washed-up. Peterson would seem to fit into the LeGarrette Blount power back role, and Blount is expected to leave in free agency. But the Patriots are also used to getting their backs at bargain prices—they historically don’t pay more than $2 million a year for running backs, the Boston Herald points out, and Peterson made $12 million last year. Last weekend, “a source close to Peterson” told the Herald that Peterson would “consider” a team-friendly deal with the Pats.
The thing to keep in mind here is that there have been no reports that any of these three teams, or any other teams, are interested in Peterson. (In fact, the only reports have been from teams indicating that they don’t want him.) There simply may not be much of a market for Peterson, not in an NFL that is increasingly seeing running backs as interchangeable and disposable. All of this reeks of desperation, of Peterson—via his father as surrogate—going on a fishing expedition just to put his name in the news, and “connect” him with suitors even if those suitors don’t actually exist. The PR hustle for an expensive, 32-year-old free agent back is a full-time job, but none of this is going to do a thing to help convince any potential suitors that he’s actually worth signing.