A short time ago considering a future with Adrian Peterson wearing anything but a Minnesota Vikings uniform seemed blasphemous. Now the end is near, and it’ll come amid heated words and hurt feelings.
An already deteriorating relationship hit a new low during the scouting combine when Peterson’s agent, Ben Dogra, had to be separated from Vikings vice president of football operations Rob Brzezinski, according to a report from Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports. The message of the heated exchanged? Dogra wanted to clearly communicate that Peterson won’t play for the Vikings again.
Tensions have been simmering since Peterson was put on the commissioner’s exempt list and suspended for all but one game during the 2014 season after pleading no contest to one count of misdemeanor reckless injury. He disciplined his four-year old son with a switch.
Dogra may have killed any attempt at reconciling a relationship that was already headed to its icy death. Peterson told ESPN that he felt ambushed by the Vikings after they worked with the NFL to keep him off the field for an entire season, burning one of the few prime years he has remaining.
Peterson can’t be reinstated until April 15, and his future will be a defining storyline during the 2015 NFL offseason. Beyond Peterson’s still-boiling anger and his agent’s apparently physical angst, a $15.4 million cap hit in 2015 also threatens to smother whatever future he has left with the Vikings.
So together let’s embrace an NFL without Peterson in Minnesota. What exactly does that strange place look like? And where will Peterson continue to do his running and hammering? There’s a team he could land with but probably shouldn’t, and then another a team that has a need for several Adrian Petersons, and plenty of cap room.
Say, have you heard the Cowboys are interested? Of course you have, because hardly an hour passes now without Peterson connected to the Dallas Cowboys and his best bud Jerry Jones.
Last August a phone conversation between Jones and Peterson surfaced through an ESPN Outside the Lines story by Dan Van Natta Jr. Peterson expressed his desire to one day play for the Cowboys, and Jones then verbally slobbered on him while saying he’d “like that too.”
But as much as Jones loves his giant splashes and public relations good vibes, bringing in another aging, heavily used and still expensive running back isn’t the best play with the limited cap space Dallas has available ($14.0 million).
The Cowboys may not be able to re-sign DeMarco Murray because of salary-cap restrictions and the impending mammoth contract Dez Bryant will receive. If they don’t retain Murray, then a running back who was just given a franchise record 392 carries and 497 total touches (including playoffs) will need to be replaced by a younger model.
That doesn’t describe Peterson, who has logged 2,359 career touches (again including playoffs). He’s well known as a human tank, and maybe a year off will help to preserve his body. But that odometer reflects heavy abuse, and spending precious dollars on Peterson with the little space left after Bryant sucks back much of Dallas’ cap room could end badly, fast.
The Falcons make a whole lot more sense. The Falcons would be in a similar situation, assuming they jettison the also aging Steven Jackson as expected. But there’s a core difference: The Falcons have more sweet, sweet cash.
The Falcons are gushing with cap room and have $22.6 million to spend. They can afford to essentially rent Peterson for a season or two, and their need at running back is far more dire once Jackson is gone. Currently only the undersized Devonta Freeman is on Atlanta’s running back depth chart, with Jacquizz Rodgers and Antone Smith slated to become free agents.