Adrian Peterson was suspended for the rest of the season earlier this week, and his career with the Vikings could be coming to an end, according to Chris Tomasson of TwinCities.com. Peterson has expressed concern about returning to the team after his suspension is over.
According to Tomasson, Peterson had told USA Today he “would love to go back and play in Minnesota” but that it might be “best for me to get a fresh start somewhere else.”
If the team decides his return is too much of a distraction to bring back, Peterson could find himself a hot commodity as far as running backs go. While Toby Gerhart and Donald Brown received only modest contracts as this past offseason’s top runners, Peterson should garner more attention than either of them. Those runners each signed deals in the $10-$11MM range, with between $4-$5MM in guaranteed money.
Both of those players have failed to live up to those modest contracts already in the first year. Peterson comes with some baggage now after missing almost all of the 2014 season, but his talent and potential upside far outweighs any runner to switch teams in recent years.
Peterson will be 30 years old by the time next season starts, but is still considered to be one of the top talents at the position across the league. While he might never again reach the level of his 2012 MVP season, he is not yet in decline as a player, amassing 1,266 yards in 14 games in 2013, averaging 4.5 yards per carry. This season will be the first year of his career that he failed to record double digit touchdowns.
Peterson’s fellow disgraced ball carrier, Ray Rice, shares the name recognition of Peterson, but his NFL future is much more up in the air. The Rice saga gained more media attention than did Peterson, with the visual of the TMZ video only exacerbating the public’s anger toward his case.
Rice, unlike Peterson, had experienced a sharp decline in on the field performance as well. Never the player Peterson was even at his peak, Rice’s 2013 season saw him gain only 660 yards at 3.1 yards per carry. Where Peterson never failed to score ten touchdowns in a season, Rice only hit that mark once, with 12 in 2011. Rice may be only a year younger than Peterson, but will likely be an afterthought in this year’s free agent class if he is even able to sign at all.