For the first time in a decade, the Minnesota Vikings’ running back depth chart will likely not include former league MVP Adrian Peterson. The team announced on Tuesday that they will not be exercising the 2017 option for the seven-time Pro Bowler. That means that unless Minnesota draws up a new deal, Peterson will become an unrestricted free agent on March 9.
It has been a rough few years for the Vikings running back; in 2014, he missed nearly the entire year due to child abuse allegations that has tarnished his image forever. Although he rebounded for a solid 2015, a torn meniscus last season derailed his 2016 season and when he returned late in the year he hardly looked like the Adrian Peterson most of us knew.
The decision by the Vikings doesn’t come as much of a surprise. The option for 2017 would have cost the Vikings $18 million against the cap. By choosing not to pick it up, the Vikings will not have any money left on the books for the 31-year-old running back. Of course, the Vikings could always choose to renegotiate with Peterson; however, they are running out of time to do so, with free agency just a week away.
Peterson will now hit the free agency market headlined by other big name running backs like LeGarrette Blount, Latavius Murray, DeAngelo Williams and Danny Woodhead. Peterson will likely draw a lot of attention in free agency, but there are a lot of questions at this point in his career about durability. Peterson had a remarkable comeback from a torn ACL in 2011, but at this age that becomes much more difficult to do while maintaining all of the power and speed that made Peterson’s career that special.
For the Detroit Lions, it means they likely won’t have to face Peterson two times a year anymore. In 14 games against the Lions, Peterson rushed for 1490 yards (5.3 yards per carry) and 11 touchdowns. While the Lions are in the market for a running back this offseason, Peterson comes with a lot of risks and likely an over-inflated price tag. I’m with Mike Payton and think the Lions should Just Say No.