Running Back Musical Chairs Leaving Out Adrian Peterson So Far

Matthew Jordan

Thursday, March 16, 2017 3:18 PM UTC

Thursday, Mar. 16, 2017 3:18 PM UTC

Most of the big-name free agents in the NFL already have signed contracts. There’s one major exception: former Vikings running back Adrian Peterson. His 2017 team options have become more limited.

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Potential Hall of Fame running back

Three-time NFL rushing champion

Former NFL MVP

Single-game league rushing record of 296 yards

Second-best single-season rushing mark of 2,097 yards

102 total touchdowns (No. 21 all-time) in 123 games

Willing to take large salary discount from 2016

One would think with the resume listed above that NFL teams would be tripping over themselves to sign free-agent running back Adrian Peterson. However, Peterson has barely played in two of the past three seasons (in 2016 due to injury and 2014 due to suspension) and is 32 years old. Running backs past the age of 30 generally don’t fare well in the NFL. Peterson also isn't a great receiver out of the backfield.

Back before free agency began, Bovada had an NFL prop on where Peterson might sign. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers opened as the +300 favorites. They don’t seem interested. If you bet on Peterson returning to the Minnesota Vikings (+500) or signing with the Seattle Seahawks (+1400), your money is lost.

Seattle signed former Packer Eddie Lacy to fill its void at tailback. Lacy’s a fine back when he is in shape, but he often isn’t. Lacy was averaging 5.1 yards per carry in the first five games last season for Green Bay but injured his ankle in Week 6 and didn’t play again. The Seahawks have included a weight clause in his deal.

Minnesota has moved on from Peterson, the best running back in franchise history, by signing Raiders free-agent Latavius Murray. The 27-year-old ran for 788 yards and a career-high 12 touchdowns last season. He was a Pro Bowl selection in 2015 after rushing for 1,066 yards.

The New England Patriots were always a long shot for Peterson, and they are out after signing Cincinnati’s Rex Burkhead. Oakland could be a landing spot for Peterson now. The Raiders have done very little in free agency thus far, knowing they have to sign QB Derek Carr and defensive end/linebacker Khalil Mack to massive extensions. The Packers need a replacement for Lacy but usually don’t dip deep into the free-agent pool and might already have spent all their money on tight end Martellus Bennett. A surprise potential suitor has emerged in the Detroit Lions. The New York Giants remain a possibility.  

The running back market is still a bit flush with guys like Jamaal Charles, LeGarrette Blount and DeAngelo Williams also still unsigned as of this writing. It’s supply and demand right now, so teams are waiting for the prices to come down. It also is considered a strong running back draft class.

I believe Peterson lands in Oakland, which gives him a chance to play in his first Super Bowl. The Raiders are +1400 to win Super Bowl LII at BetOnline. That’s the third-lowest price among AFC teams behind New England (+360) and Pittsburgh (+1000).

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