While destined for the Hall of Fame, rumors suggest Adrian Peterson is not ready to hang up the cleats just yet. With the 2021 NFL Draft quickly approaching, teams looking for running back depth could turn their attention to Adrian Peterson as he looks for the next landing spot of his storied NFL career.
Following a stop in Detroit, Adrian Peterson is still searching for a landing spot
Despite free agency officially opening up on March 15, Peterson remains unsigned. He spent last season playing in a rotational role with the Detriot Lions. Even though he led the team in carries (156), Peterson failed to record over 4.0 yards per carry in 12 of 16 games. In total, Peterson finished with 604 yards and 7 touchdowns. Splitting time with D’Andre Swift and Kerryon Johnson, Peterson saw his total yardage fall from 1,040 the year prior with Washington to 705 in 2020.
Given his age (36) and usage over his career (3,493 touches), Peterson and perspective teams know he is in the final stages of his historic career that began in 2007. In his 13 seasons, Peterson has recorded over 1,000 rushing yards eight times, including one of the greatest seasons ever in 2012, where he finished just eight yards short of Eric Dickerson’s single-season record of 2,105 rushing yards.
Peterson, a future first-ballot Hall of Famer, finds his name scattered amongst the record books. He is fifth in rushing yards (14,820), sixth in attempts (3,192), and fourth in touchdowns (118). If he can score six more touchdowns in 2021, he will pass Marcus Allen for third all-time.
Adrian Peterson reportedly received calls from a “couple” of teams as rumors pick up
Making an appearance on the Pat McAfee Show, Peterson stated that his camp received calls from various teams. That was March 11, which makes you wonder what stalled the talks.
Nevertheless, Peterson appears fine waiting this out, not that he has much of a choice. It is plausible that teams have been waiting to see how their cap situations play out before adding a 36-year-old RB to their depth chart. After all, the reduced cap of $182.5 million caused franchises to rework their rosters and salaries.
It is not a matter of if, but when and where Peterson will sign next. Teams need a veteran who can eat up carries late in games and be a reliable option when the game is on the line. That fits what Peterson is at this point in his career. Likely willing to sign a one-year contract, I’d expect to see something happen sooner rather than later.
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Rumors point to a few contenders as potential landing spots for Adrian Peterson
You won’t find a team who loves to run the ball more than the Baltimore Ravens. Since 2018, the Ravens have led the NFL in rushing attempts. Last season, they ran 555 times for 3,071 yards and 24 touchdowns. Between a dynamic quarterback and skilled running backs, Baltimore should dominate the ground game yet again. Following the release of Mark Ingram, there is an opening for another RB in the Ravens’ backfield.
Baltimore has no qualms when it comes to using a multitude of rushers. J.K. Dobbins was virtually unstoppable last season. Over the final six games, he took his 77 carries for 495 yards (eighth-most) and 7 touchdowns. His 6.4 yards per carry were the most by a running back with 40 or more attempts.
Gus Edwards, meanwhile, is still underrated by the general public. Entering his fourth season, Edwards has seen at least 133 carries and 700 rushing yards in each of his three seasons in Baltimore. In 2020, he faced a stacked box (eight-plus defenders) the sixth-most times at 34%.
We haven’t even mentioned the best rushing QB in the NFL, Lamar Jackson, who is the most dynamic option. If the Ravens want a proper ground-and-pound RB, they would be hard-pressed to find someone better than Peterson.
The Steelers depth chart is littered with holes and not enough salary cap space or draft capital to fill them. Between replacing the entire left side of the offensive line and adding defensive depth, who the starting running back will be is up in the air.
James Conner struggled with injuries and saw his production dip in 2020. The Steelers chose to move on and likely wouldn’t have had the cap space to retain him anyway. Additionally, Benny Snell is not who the team wants to roll out as their Week 1 starter.
Think of this for a second. The Pittsburgh Steelers, the team famous for their grind-it-out style throughout their history, were last in rushing last season with just 1,351 yards.
I can see the veins in Bill Cowher’s neck popping out from here at the thought of this. While not a long-term answer, Peterson could step in and take the majority of carries while the Steelers continue to look toward the future.
The Cardinals are a team pegged with signing or drafting a running back this offseason. While a free-agent winner so far, Chase Edmonds could quickly see his role diminish if they add more depth. Behind Edmonds is nothing to write home about. Jonathan Ward was on the practice squad last season, and Eno Benjamin spent the entire year on the active roster but never made an appearance.
As much as I would love to see Najee Harris in Arizona, it is unlikely the team will take an RB that high in the draft. Edmonds recorded a career-high 97 carries in 2020. To expect him to jump closer to the “bell-cow” range of 200+ would be asking a monumental feat. I am not saying he is not capable, but no one knows how his body would handle it. Additionally, there is the 17th NFL game that needs to be accounted for in 2021.
Arizona can’t sit back and throw it on every play. The Kliff Kingsbury offense needs some semblance of balance to it. The Cardinals are a prime landing spot for Peterson as it addresses the needs of both parties. One wants to play for a competing team, and the other needs a veteran who has a track record of handling his fair share of touches.
If Peterson wants to hitch his wagon to a team with championship aspirations, as Chris Berman so eloquently put, “No one circles the wagons like the Buffalo Bills.”
A legitimate contender, the Bills could use some help in the rushing game. The jury is out on what both Devin Singletary and Zack Moss will become in the NFL. As a duo, they combined for 268 rushes, 1,168 rushing yards, and 6 touchdowns, adding 52 receptions for 364 yards and another score in the receiving game.
Singletary has shown the ability to break off explosive plays but does his best work as a pass-catching back. Moss played well enough at times, but neither RB moves the needle for the Bills. Moss is also recovering from a tight-rope surgery to repair a ruptured tendon in his ankle. It is expected he will be ready for training camp. Along with Matt Breida, Peterson could help solidify the Bills’ rushing attack and take some pressure off Josh Allen.
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