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The Best Fits For Adrian Peterson

Adrian Peterson will end his Hall of Fame career outside frigid Minneapolis. The Minnesota Vikings have announced that they will not exercise the star running back’s $18 million 2017 option, making him an unrestricted free agent. This will be Peterson’s first time hitting the open market in his 10 year career.

Peterson is coming off a torn meniscus that essentially wiped out his 2016 season, his second in three years. AP will turn 32 at the end of March, and even though that is an alarming age for a running back, Peterson’s lack of carries in two of the past three years may mean he still has meaningful thread left on his tires. Peterson played in one game in 2015 with 21 carries, and only 37 times in three games last season. Peterson was his typical self in between those years, leading the league with 1,485 and 327 carries in 2015.

So now with AP on the open market, he is free to sign with any team he wants. Will he go for this final pay day? Will he pick which team is the best personal fit? How about a team who he believes he can take over the hump? Or will he choose a Super Bowl contender, knowing he will be taken a reduced role for the first time in his career.

At this point of his career, Adrian Peterson is probably still better than the LaDainian Tomlinson that signed with the Jets in 2010, but this situation reminds me of that. LT was in the twilight of his career and chose the Jets, who were coming off an AFC championship season.

Real quick. LT and AP are the two players most synonymous with fantasy football right?

Quick power rankings when it comes to the best fantasy football running backs:

  1. LaDainian Tomlinson
  2. Priest Holmes
  3. Adrian Peterson
  4. Shaun Alexander
PlayerYearFantasy PointsRushing YardsRushing Touchdowns Receiving Touchdowns Receiving Yards
Tomlinson20064271,815283508
Holmes20033731,420270690
Peterson20123072,097121217
Alexander20053641,88027178

Here are teams that would be a good for the future Hall of Fame running back.Anyway, I digress.

Green Bay Packers: $40,995,981 Salary Cap Space

With DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis, the nickname of fire and ice has been floated around. How about the tandem of Aaron Rodgers and Adrian Peterson? The Packers almost never sign free agents, but this opportunity may be too good to pass up. The upside here is off the charts, but this seems more like a fantasy football team than anything. Aaron Rodgers loves being the man and bringing in AP will definitely take that spotlight away from him. Ty Montgomery did a fine job, but AP is still AP.

The Packers’ offense isn’t built for Peterson’s running style, as Rodgers spends most of the game out of shotgun. If Mike McCarthy can convince Ted Thompson and Rodgers that he can incorporate Peterson in the offense without taking away much from the passing game, it is a no-brainer. AP will give Rodgers the best running back of his career and a real threat in the box for opposing defenses. I don’t think there is bad blood between AP and the Vikings, but teaming up with the rival Packers would send a message back to his former club.

New York Giants: $14,282,686 Salary Cap Space

We wrote about this scenario previously, as the Giants rumors have been circling for a while now. Like the Packers’, the Giants’ shotgun offense would have the chance to implement Peterson in the backfield. The offensive potential of Odell Beckham, Eli Manning, Sterling Shepard, Paul Perkins, and hopefully more younger players through the draft, the addition of Peterson looks great on paper for the Giants.

Washington Redskins: $35,477,921 Salary Cap Space

Rob Kelley and Chris Thompson are nice players, but neither of them were able to impress enough to be the hands-down starter in 2017. We are seeing a trend here, as the Redskins’ offense isn’t AP friendly. That won’t prevent Dan Snyder from being attracted to the big name Adrian Peterson brings. An offense of  Kirk Cousins, Jordan Reed, and Jamison Crowder is an intriguing one.

Oakland Raiders: $43,931,487 Salary Cap Space

With Latavius Murray’s time with the team over, the thought of AP in the silver of gold seems only right. The Raiders have a special quarterback in Derek Carr and legitimate weapons on the outside in Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree. Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington filled in nicely behind Murray, but it may be a tall task to give two second-year backs all the carries. The Raiders have a fantastic offensive line and will head into the 2017 season as Super Bowl contenders, with or without AP. Adding Peterson would only strengthen their already potent offense.

New England Patriots: $60,667,426 Salary Cap Space

You know Belichick will do his due diligence here. Even though he just won with a backfield of three productive running backs, you know he would scheme in AP’s strengths pretty easily. Even though LeGarrette Blount led the league with 18 rushing touchdowns last season, he is currently a free agent and 30 years old – bad news for a running back. Belichick is known for departing with players who still have one more year left in the tank, knowing it is better off in the long-term (See Revis, Seymour, Welker, Law). If Belichick is turned on by the idea of lining up Adrian Peterson behind Tom Brady, it would be hard to think that Peterson denies this opportunity.

Carolina Panthers: $37,588,761 Salary Cap Space

Just one year removed from the Super Bowl, the Panthers have to think they just have to retool to be a NFC heavyweight again. Jonathan Stewart will turn 30 years old in March (ironically the same day as Peterson) and will be on the downswing of his career. The Panthers have no problem emphasizing the run, as a read-option with Cam Newton and AP is frightening. The Panthers have been linked to drafting Leonard Fournette, but they can be more attracted into the idea of pairing Newton and Peterson rather than bringing in his possible prodigy.

Indianapolis Colts: $54,238,812 Salary Cap Space

The Colts have a laundry list of problem, but adding Peterson to that offense is enticing. New general manager Chris Ballard needs to build this team through the draft, but he could be looking to making a splash. The duo of Frank Gore and Adrian Peterson is more of an old school look, as the two Hall of Famers are two bruisers who run with their shoulder down. The Colts’ need to use their resources for their priorities such protecting Andrew Luck and build a defense and they need to use their, but if AP isn’t looking for a huge pay day, it is an interesting fit.

Dallas Cowboys; $4,311,937 Salary Cap Space

That low salary number is not accounting for Tony Romo’s complicated salary situation. As we start and finish with the fire and ice label, teaming up Ezekiel Elliott and Adrian Peterson behind that monstrous offensive line simply isn’t fair. Jerry Jones has always had a fascination of Adrian Peterson playing for “America’s Team” so if it’s possible, Jerry’s palm will be itching. Obviously Zeke has proved he can handle a full workload and is an elite running back, but this could work in his favor. He will obviously take a huge step back in carries and playing time, but he would save himself of the wear-and-tear the running back position warrants. A move like this would have the football world buzzing all year long.

If this happens,  good luck deciding on a fantasy value for both Peterson and Elliott.

Other Teams Who Need A Running Back But Aren’t A Good Fit:

Philadelphia Eagles: $9,692,349 Salary Cap Space

Kansas City Chiefs: $10,592,207 Salary Cap Space

 

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