After a 2020 NFL season that saw him leading the Detroit Lions in carries, where are the potential landing spots for former Lions running back Adrian Peterson in the free agent market? Let’s take a look at some of the places Peterson could find success in the next stage of his career.
Adrian Peterson free agency landing spots
After D’Andre Swift’s emergence, it appears that Adrian Peterson is in search of a new landing spot. Where could he be playing in 2021 once free agency shakes out?
New England Patriots
At this point — why the hell not? Literally, everyone else is on their radar, and they are throwing money around like it’s 50 cent wings night at their favorite Gentlemen’s Club. NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero has already specifically named the Patriots as someone in the running back market.
The Patriots currently have four running backs — Sony Michel, Damien Harris, J.J. Taylor, and Brandon Bolden — under contract going into the 2021 season. While the Patriots could look for more of a pass-catching option, Adrian Peterson is a player who, despite his age (36), adds a veteran presence and can eat up carries.
We don’t know if there’s a mutual interest, but free agent RB Adrian Peterson would love to come to Pittsburgh. In a recent appearance on the Pat McAfee Show, Adrian Peterson added the Steelers to that list of possible free agency landing spots.
The Steelers will lose RB James Conner and would move into 2021 relying on Benny Snell and Anthony McFarland Jr. Adrian Peterson would come in and create a committee with Snell for the rushing share where McFarland could help more in the passing game. However, this would also require the Steelers to remember how to run the ball — something they gave up on in 2020.
We expect the Atlanta Falcons will want to rush the ball more in 2021 under the new regime. HC Arthur Smith was integral in building the Tennessee Titans’ offensive scheme. The problem is who will carry the ball for the Falcons?
Todd Gurley is a free agent and unlikely to return, leaving a hole at the RB1. Although Adrian Peterson might not have the homerun upside anymore, he could serve as a 150+ carry back. Even at 36, he could lead the committee in touches as he did in Detroit.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
After capturing the Super Bowl last season, the Buccaneers are reloading for another run at the Lombardi Trophy. If free agent Adrian Peterson wants to get an elusive ring and cap off a Hall of Fame career, choosing Tampa Bay as a landing spot might be his best option.
It is unknown if free agent Leonard Fournette will be back in Tampa or not, vacating 133 touches. Peterson would share the carries with Ronald Jones and Ke’Shawn Vaughn. There is also a possibility the Buccaneers are looking into James White in another former-Boston reunion.
The Miami Dolphins have an interesting conundrum at running back. While Myles Gaskin played well in 2020, are they content with him as their RB1? Gaskin rushed 141 times for 584 yards in 10 games with the team, leading the backfield. Miami has already been pegged as a team in the running for an RB in the draft but addressing the spit in free agency is also a possibility.
While one-dimensional at this point, Adrian Peterson could work well in a committee approach with Gaskin, Salvon Ahmed, and even Lynn Bowden Jr.
New York Giants
All reports are that RB Saquon Barkley’s recovery from his ACL tear is going according to schedule. What they need now is an RB2 as Wayne Gallman heads into free agency. I think they would likely be a landing spot for a receiving back first, but free agent Adrian Peterson could still be a valuable addition and an insurance policy for the Giants.
What is Adrian Peterson’s market value in free agency?
At this point in his career, both Adrian Peterson and his potential landing spots know they are not getting the 2,000-yard rushing version of him. But they are getting a serviceable running back who can still take on a prominent role in a committee.
Over the last three seasons, Peterson has averaged 206 carries, 848 yards, and 6.3 touches per season, while playing at least 15 games each year. Given the reduced salary cap, Adrian Peterson would be a low-risk option to help an organization’s backfield.
Want more NFL news and analysis?
Be sure to follow us on Twitter (@PFN365) to stay up to date with all things around the NFL. Also, continue to visit Pro Football Network for NFL news and in-depth analysis concerning the 2021 season and beyond.