On Tuesday, the Minnesota Vikings declined the option to pick up running back Adrian Peterson’s contract for 2017. This means the former star rusher is heading for free agency on March 9.
After an injury-plagued 2016 season that saw Peterson play in just three NFL games, the Vikings decided to clear $18 million in cap space by not picking up his option for next year. For the first time in his career, Peterson will be playing for another NFL team. Could that team be none other than the G-Men?
Back in January, Peterson listed the Giants among a few teams he was thinking about joining if the Vikings didn’t pick up his option. Peterson followed this up earlier in February with a somewhat cryptic tweet about New York’s offseason moves.
Last season, the Giants had a dismal offense, particularly in the ground game. The team finished 26th in points per game and 29th in rushing behind a trio of the promising rookie Paul Perkins, the recently released Rashad Jennings, and the oft-injured Shane Vereen.
On Monday, Peterson told ESPN’s Josina Anderson, My main goal remains the same: to win a Super Bowl championship with a great team, which I also believe we have in Minnesota.”
Despite the low offensive numbers, the Giants still won 11 games last year and fell to the Packers in the Wild Card round. With the addition of a healthy Peterson, suddenly the Giants’ backfield gets a lot scarier. While 2016 was filled with injuries, AP showed no signs of slowing down the year before, leading the league in rushing attempts, rushing yards, yards per game, and rushing touchdowns.
While the average career-length for an NFL running back is about three years, there is reason to believe Peterson still has some life left in his legs despite turning 32 next month. Plenty of lesser players have had resurgent seasons later in their careers. Look at New England Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount who just rushed for over 1000 yards for the first time since his rookie year in 2010 and who led the NFL in rushing touchdowns with 18, all at the age of 30.
The Giants also feature former Vikings quarterback coach Craig Johnson as their running backs coach, meaning Peterson would be working directly under a familiar face.
So why might the Giants not take a chance on All-Day? For one thing, the running back’s preferred rushing style and the way New York Giants head coach Ben McAdoo runs his offense don’t exactly line up.
According to ESPN Stats and Information, “…95 percent of Peterson’s carries have come with the quarterback under center.” However, the Giants ran plays out of the shotgun 72% of the time last season.
While Peterson won’t get his $18 million, he’ll likely command $5-8 million, which the Giants would be much better off investing in bringing back tackle Johnathan Hankins and linebacker Keenan Robinson to keep the defense together. New York will also need to eventually figure out a deal with defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul after placing the franchise tag on him for the second time in three years on Monday.
If you add in Peterson’s six-game suspension in 2014 as a result of child abuse charges, the Giants will likely stay away from any controversial signings after releasing kicker Josh Brown midway through last season when he admitted to abusing his ex-wife.
While Peterson could be a dynamic add to many offensive systems, he doesn’t appear to be a fit in New York.