Where Next For Adrian Peterson? Oddsmaker Favors Buccaneers

Matthew Jordan

Tuesday, February 28, 2017 11:51 PM UTC

Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2017 11:51 PM UTC

The Minnesota Vikings were never going to pay Adrian Peterson $18 million for the 2017 NFL season as no running back is worth that kind of money. Thus Peterson is now an unrestricted free agent. Where might he land? Let’s examine Bovada’s prop.

Adrian Peterson restructured his contract -- the biggest in the NFL for a running back -- before the 2015 season with the Minnesota Vikings. The new deal included an option for 2017 that would have paid him $18 million, including a $6 million roster bonus had he been on the roster on the third day of the new league year, which is March 11 in 2017.

The Vikings decided not to wait and declined the option Tuesday. This was absolutely no surprise. The only players worth $18 million a season in the NFL are quarterbacks. Plus Peterson is nearly 32 and coming off a 2016 season that was cut way short due to a torn meniscus in his knee. Peterson also played just one game in 2014 but that was due to a league suspension for alleged child abuse. Peterson was great as recently as 2015 in leading the NFL with 1,485 rushing yards. He is easily the greatest running back in Vikings history and would have a borderline Hall of Fame case even if he never played again.

Just because the Vikings declined the option doesn’t mean that Peterson can’t re-sign with the only franchise he has known since being selected No. 7 overall in the 2007 draft out of Oklahoma. He and the Vikings could agree on a reduced contract to allow Peterson to finish his career in purple.

However, Peterson will hit the open market at 4 p.m. ET on March 9 when free agency opens. How much of market will there be for him? Peterson turns 32 on March 21 and, since the 1970 AFL merger, there have been just 10 instances -- only one since 2010 -- of a player of that age or older rushing for 1,000 yards in a season. Frank Gore is the one to do it this decade.

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On Bovada NFL odds, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are the +325 favorites to be Peterson’s team in 2017. The Bucs signed tailback Doug Martin, who finished second to Peterson in NFL rushing in 2015, to a huge contract entering last season, but Martin was a bust and then was suspended late in the year for PEDs. He will also be suspended the first three games of 2017. Because of that suspension, the Bucs could cut Martin without penalty. Peterson did mention the Bucs among the teams he would be interested in previously. It’s a rising club and there are no state income taxes in Florida so Peterson could save a few dollars compared most other NFL states.

Returning to Minnesota is +500 along with the signing with the Giants or Chiefs. New York has a great defense, stellar receiver in Odell Beckham and very good QB in Eli Manning. It could be a Super Bowl team with a top-flight running back. The Giants were one of the NFL’s worst rushing teams in 2016 and already have released former starter Rashad Jennings. Kansas City is a run-heavy team and cut its former superstar back, Jamaal Charles, on Tuesday.

Carolina and New England are +800. A backfield of Cam Newton and Peterson with the Panthers? Yikes. If Peterson wants to play in his first Super Bowl, the Patriots are the place to go. Coach Bill Belichick has taken fliers on supposed past-their-prime veterans before. New England’s single-back system is perfect for Peterson’s downhill running style.

The rest of the options are Oakland (+900), Green Bay (+1000), Washington (+1000), Seattle (+1400) and Philadelphia (+2000). Would Peterson pull an “opposite Brett Favre” and go from the rival Vikings to the Packers? Green Bay needs someone to pair with Eddie Lacy. Raiders starting running back Latavius Murray is a free agent and not likely coming back. The Seahawks’ running game wasn’t the same last year without the retired Marshawn Lynch. I don’t see the Eagles as an option.

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