Well, that was interesting. On Tuesday, February 28, 2017, both Adrian Peterson and Jamaal Charles were released from the Vikings and the Chiefs. Imagine telling someone this news back in 2012. They would think you were insane; that both of these future Hall of Famers would ever be let go by their teams. While you are traveling back in time, you might as well have some fun and see the reaction of that person when you tell them that Donald Trump would be elected President of the United States. I wonder which would be more shocking. But that is where we are. These two backfield monsters have had a rough last few years due to injuries and legal issues. When you pair this with their age and large contracts, it is not difficult to see why the Vikings and the Chiefs bit the public relations bullet and let these two stars go.
This article focuses on Adrian "All Day" Peterson's potential landing spots. First it should be noted that Adrian Peterson may or may not be human. The man heals from devastating injuries in mind boggling time. Furthermore, he is an all-time great running back. Having missed time over the last few years has saved his body from the wear and tear of being a workhorse NFL running back. Combine all of these factors and it is not difficult to conclude that that there is still tread left on the tires. It is highly unlikely that AD will return to his MVP caliber form, but he can be a good back in the right situation.
Chris Simms of Bleacher Report listed these five teams with the best chance to sign all-time great back: Washington Redskins, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Carolina Panthers, New England Patriots, and Kansas City Chiefs. All five teams could use Peterson as none of these teams have superstar running backs. They could either start Peterson or use him as a one-two punch with their current running back situation. The two most interesting teams in my opinion would be the Carolina Panthers and the New England Patriots.
The Carolina Panthers need to retool their backfield badly. Cam Newton, while he is Superman, could use some help back there. Jonathan Stewart is in the twilight of his career and is only the starter because the Panthers have no other options. Jonathan Stewart ranked 19th in rushing yards in 2016. Adding Peterson would make the Carolina backfield very dangerous when paired with Cam Newton. That would make for a zone read nightmare for defenses. Imagine being a defensive end trying to decide whether it is Cam Newton or Adrian Peterson that will be keeping the ball and running at you. Further, the Panthers have the cap space to sign Peterson if they choose to. They rank 16th in the NFL in terms of cap space with $39.6 million in available salary cap room.
The New England Patriots would be an interesting landing spot as well. A team fresh off of a Super Bowl win that will get Rob Gronkowski back and an upgrade at running back with Adrian Peterson is a frightening scenario if you are not a Pats fan. LaGarrette Blount had a solid year last year as he lead the league in touchdowns and finished eighth in rushing yards. Blount is a free agent this year. If Blount skips town, Peterson's running style and ability would fit well in the Patriots offense as a workhorse running back with big play potential. It's scary to think about adding more weapons to Tom Brady's offense but this fit makes too much sense. Furthermore, Peterson has never made it to a Super Bowl in his storied career. On the flip side, the Patriots seem to be in every Super Bowl. If going to a Super Bowl contender is a high priority for Peterson, then he should make whatever concessions necessary to end up in New England.
March 9th, 2017 marks the first day of NFL free agency. It should be a big day for Adrian Peterson and the team that lands him. When Peterson has something to prove, he does so in a big way. Proving to everyone that he has more in the tank will be exciting to see in 2017