Adrian Peterson

Poll: Which UFA RB Should Redskins Target?

Washington’s backfield corps absorbed a major blow Friday when news of Derrius Guice‘s ACL tear surfaced. The second-round pick had impressed during camp and was set to be a key part of the Redskins’ 2018 backfield.

Now, the Redskins are vulnerable here. Chris Thompson admitted he’s not fully recovered from the broken leg he suffered last season, leaving Rob Kelley and Samaje Perine as the team’s top two healthy running backs. Under the circumstances, it would seemingly behoove the Redskins to examine free agent options. Should they?

Washington holds $13MM-plus in cap space, so funding won’t be an issue here given the timing of this injury and the host of proven backs on the market. Of the players available, Orleans Darkwa has generated the most interest this offseason. The Giants’ 2017 rushing leader met with the Patriots in April, before undergoing surgery, and since recovering has met with the Bills, Jets and Colts. Each team passed, but Darkwa has just 276 carries on his NFL odometer. And he averaged 4.4 yards per tote despite running behind an injury-ravaged Giants offensive front.

Alfred Morris led the Redskins in rushing for four straight seasons, and he averaged 4.8 yards per handoff last season as the Cowboys’ primary starter during Ezekiel Elliott‘s suspension. The former sixth-round Washington find is 29 and hasn’t generated much interest since his Cowboys contract expired, although he did visit the Jets recently.

Eddie Lacy‘s also fairly young, at 28, but he’s coming off a brutal Seahawks season. After providing per-carry averages north of 4.0 in each of his four Packers seasons, Lacy averaged just 2.6 yards per run for the Seahawks. Branden Oliver has not been as successful on a per-rush basis, holding a career average of 3.4, but he totaled 853 yards from scrimmage as a seven-game starter as a rookie in 2014. Oliver also drew interest from the Bills this summer.

What about the market’s old guard? Adrian Peterson is obviously the first name that comes to mind, and the future Hall of Famer maintains he would like to play a 12th season. Peterson said he’s now healthy and has recovered from the neck injury that ended his 2017 season. While the three-time rushing champion’s best days are behind him, he amassed two 130-plus-yard games with the Cardinals, doing so despite being a midseason acquisition.

Jamaal Charles, 31, made it through last season healthy after extensive knee trouble plagued him in 2015 and 2016, but the Broncos took him out of their rotation. Nevertheless, the two-time All-Pro led Denver backs by averaging 4.3 yards per carry (albeit on just 69 handoffs). DeMarco Murray retired, but he made it clear shortly before that announcement he was interested in playing this season. Could this situation lure the 2014 offensive player of the year out of retirement?

However, the Redskins also have former Broncos backup Kapri Bibbs and third-year UDFA Byron Marshall. Should they bypass the market and go with a cast fronted by Kelley and Perine?

Vote in PFR’s latest poll and weigh in with your thoughts on this situation in the comments section!

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Poll: Best Free Agent RB Remaining?

Even as June winds down, there are a surprising number of quality running backs still available on the open market. The current free agent crop of backfield options includes some notable names, such as: 

Charles, Hightower, Vereen, and Murray were all on the Saints’ radar recently as they canvassed the free agent market for running back support. Ultimately, they signed Terrance West to help fill in during Mark Ingram‘s four-game suspension, leaving the other vets in limbo. While Charles, Hightower, and Vereen all showed their stuff for coach Sean Payton, Murray declined his invite, preferring not to participate in a giant cattle call.

When considering only past accomplishments, the names of Peterson, Charles, and Murray obviously stand out. But, unfortunately, father time is cruel to NFL running backs and these players are on the back nines of their careers, to put it mildly. Out of this trio, Murray has the best 2017 to show teams. Even though his job as the Titans’ top rusher was usurped by Derrick Henry, he had 39 catches for 266 yards and occasionally showed the powerful rushing that made him a force to be reckoned with in Dallas. Charles, he of several 1,000-yard seasons, had only 296 rushing yards in total and found himself at the bottom of Denver’s depth chart to close out the season. Peterson, meanwhile, forced his way out of New Orleans due to a lack of playing time and had only two performances of note in his run with the Cardinals.

Lacy signed with the Seahawks last year and hoped to put concerns about his health and conditioning to rest. Unfortunately, those questions persist after he averaged just 2.6 yards per carry in nine games. Lacy was a bulldozer in his early days with the Packers, but his last season of note came in 2015 when he averaged 4.1 yards per carry. Even then, ball security was a problem as he fumbled the ball four times.

Darkwa is back on the NFL radar after doctors cleared him to workout. Darkwa won’t win this poll on name value, but unlike everyone else on this list, he’s coming off of the best season of his career.The 26-year-old (did we mention that he’s also the youngest running back here?) ran for 751 yards off of 171 carries, good for a strong 4.4 yards per carry average. It was an ugly year for the Giants on the whole, but Darkwa excelled on a personal level.

Vereen, another ex-Giant, can’t say the same for his 2017 season. However, his second act with the Giants has been respectable on the whole. Acting as a secondary ball carrier, he has averaged 4.2 yards per carry over the last three seasons. He also showed that he can still be a worthwhile pass catcher out of the backfield with 44 grabs for 253 yards last season, though he averaged a career-low 5.8 yards per catch.

Last but not least is Morris, though you can be forgiven for forgetting about this three-time 1,000-yard rusher. Morris was a force to be reckoned with from 2012-2014, but he has been riding the pine for the Cowboys over the last two years. What you might not realize is that Morris was tremendous in a small sample last year as Ezekiel Elliott‘s early-season backup and later-season fill-in. Morris averaged 4.76 yards per carry off of 115 attempts, which makes one wonder why we haven’t heard his name mentioned in recent months.

Out of the running backs listed here, which player do you feel can contribute the most in 2018? Click below to cast your vote and defend your choice in the comments section.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

The Best Remaining NFL Free Agents

There are still plenty of impact free agents left on the board, including some big names. Here’s a look at some of the high-profile veterans that are still looking for work in advance of training camp: 

Kaepernick probably stands as the most talented quarterback left on the open market, but his ongoing collusion case against the NFL complicated matters. It seems unlikely that he’ll land anywhere between now and the start of the season, but friend and former teammate Eric Reid probably has a better chance of signing somewhere, despite being in a similar boat. Recently, the duo was spotted working out together in California.

It seems like just yesterday that Murray was the league’s most fearsome running back. Unfortunately, Murray’s age has caught up to him to some extent and he was overshadowed last year in Tennessee by the younger Derrick HenryThe Titans dropped Murray in March and he has not found a new NFL home despite meeting with the LionsSeahawks, and Dolphins since his release. Recently, the Saints tried to include Murray in their cattle call for running backs, but he declined the invite.

Peterson has lobbied the Texans, Saints, Packers, Panthers, Dolphins, and Rams to sign him, but we have yet to hear of any reciprocated interest from those clubs. It’s possible that Murray and Peterson won’t sign unless a running back injury opens up an opportunity for them. Teams could also steer clear of Peterson altogether given his desire for a starring role despite his lack of star performance over the last two years.

Bryant is the biggest name on this list, but we shouldn’t expect to see him sign anywhere until July. There have been conflicting reports on his market, but the latest word indicates that he is receiving interest, despite concerns about his demeanor in the locker room.

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AFC Notes: Brady, Gates, Peterson, Titans

In a recent opinion piece, Ben Volin of the Boston Globe makes the case that Tom Brady didn’t hold up his end of the bargain in trying to quell concerns about drama within the Patriots organization. Volin argues that coach Bill Belichick and Rob Gronkowski both did their best to assure the media and the public that all was good in New England, but that Brady raised more questions than he answered during his brief media availability.

Volin writes that the Patriots’ goal when Gronkowski and Brady finally returned to the team was to “show a united front, and squash all of the drama”, but that Brady failed to do so. According to Volin, Belichick did a “superb job” and Gronkowski did a “great job of explaining himself too”, but that Brady seemed like “he wants the drama to linger, to let it be known that he’s still upset with Belichick and the organization.”

Whatever is going on with the Patriots, it seems to be a saga with no end in sight. The issues likely won’t be put to rest for good until the team take the field in 2018 and shows they can still play at a championship level even with all the off-field distractions.

Here’s more from around the AFC:

  • Antonio Gates isn’t a realistic candidate to be signed by the Bills, according to Jay Skurski of the Buffalo News. Despite the Bills being a bit thin at tight end behind Charles Clay, Skurski thinks the Bills would rather develop the young tight ends on their roster.
  • Adrian Peterson would like to play for the Texans, he told Mark Berman of Fox 26 (Twitter link). Peterson said “I would definitely love to be here in Houston. I think I can help them out tremendously..I still got it.” Peterson has repeatedly expressed his desire to continue playing, but hasn’t drawn much interest.
  • Rookie tight end Ethan Wolf is a “long shot” to make the Titans roster, according to Jim Wyatt of Titansonline.com. Wyatt thinks he’ll end up on the outside looking in due to the Titans’ full tight end depth-chart, but that he’s a potential practice squad candidate.

Lamar Miller Open To Playing With Adrian Peterson

Native Texan and free agent running back Adrian Peterson has long expressed his willingness to play for Houston’s NFL franchise, and incumbent back Lamar Miller would have no problem with the Texans adding the 33-year-old Peterson, as he explained during an appearance on NFL Network (video link).

“I used to look up to Adrian Peterson growing up,” Miller said. “He runs the ball hard. He’s a great running back. He’s been a great running back in this league for years. It would be good to have him join us, just his leadership, seeing the things he’s done in previous years, that I feel like I could probably learn from him. It would help us out as a team.”

Miller handled the lion’s share of Houston’s carries in 2017, toting the ball 238 times while managing a 3.7 yards per carry average. The Texans certainly have room for another back however, as D’Onta Foreman — who is recovering from a torn Achilles and could hypothetically start the season on the physically unable to perform list — rushed 78 times last year. Alfred Blue, whom the Texans recently re-signed, handled 71 carries of his own.

Arizona acquired Peterson from the Saints last October for the price of a 2018 sixth-round pick, and installed him as its starting running back in the absence of superstar David Johnson. Peterson, who has maintained he wants to continue his career, managed 3.5 yards per carry on 129 rushes and scored twice in the desert. However, he was among the least effective backs in the league: Football Outsiders ranked Peterson 46th among 47 running backs in both DYAR and DVOA, metrics which measure overall and per-play value, respectively.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

The Best Remaining NFL Free Agents

The biggest names in this year’s free agent class such as Kirk Cousins, Sammy Watkins, Allen Robinson, and Trumaine Johnson have long been spoken for, but plenty of notable players remain on the board here in June. With a hat tip to James Palmer of NFL.com (on Twitter), here’s a look at some high-profile veterans who are still seeking work this summer: 

Of course, Kaepernick’s situation is more complicated than the rest. Lately, the only updates we’ve heard regarding Kaepernick have been tied to his pending collusion case against the NFL. Former teammate Reid is certainly closer to the NFL radar after an April meeting with the Bengals, but he also believes teams are shying away from him due to his participation in anthem protests. Reid filed a grievance of his own against the NFL in May and has been spotted working out with Kaepernick.

Unfortunately for Murray and Peterson, filing a grievance for age bias against running backs is not an option. The Titans kicked Murray to the curb in March and he has not found a new NFL home despite meeting with the Lions, Seahawks, and Dolphins since his release. Peterson has lobbied the Texans, Saints, Packers, Panthers, Dolphins, and Rams to sign him, but we have yet to hear of any reciprocated interest from those clubs. Given Peterson’s reluctance to be on the lower end of a timeshare in New Orleans last year, one has to imagine that Peterson will not be a real consideration for teams unless a starter gets injured in camp. Murray could be a more attractive option for teams. Although he averaged just 3.6 yards per tote with the Titans last year, he contributed in the passing game with 39 receptions.

Bryant says he has no regrets about turning down a three-year, $21MM offer from the Ravens, but right now it looks like he blew his opportunity at a solid free agent deal. Reportedly, many teams are unwilling to consider him for even the league minimum, so it seems unlikely that he’ll find the lucrative one-year contract he’s seeking. On the plus side, his former employer says multiple teams have checked in on him.

Things have been eerily quiet for Maclin after he was displaced by the Ravens, though the Eagles and Cowboys considered him internally in the spring. We also haven’t heard a peep about Decker since his spring meetings with the Raiders and Ravens. Both players are roughly in the same boat – they were 1,000-yard receivers in 2015, but they are on the wrong side of 30 and haven’t done much on the field in the last two years. Still, both profile as low-risk/high-reward signings.

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Extra Points: Safeties, Eagles, Peterson

With Eric Reid, Tre Boston and Kenny Vaccaro unemployed after 2 1/2 months of free agency, safety market’s served as a persistent talking about this offseason. One former defensive coordinator attributed this oddity to teams having difficulty placing values on modern safeties due to myriad responsibilities. An agent for a top safety has a darker view of what’s transpiring.

(Teams) are basically avoiding everyone because they’re ignoring Reid,” the agent told CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora. “That’s exactly how I am looking at it, absolutely. Our (client) hasn’t done anything like that in his past and neither have most of these guys. But that’s exactly what we think is going on here. They just shut the safety market down entirely, and the guy who got paid, by and large, didn’t make much.

It’s the most asinine thing I’ve ever seen that you can tell us that this group of safeties aren’t worth signing, period, at this point. And saying maybe some other guys have turned down $2MM or $2.5MM, but we have a pretty damn good safety and we haven’t even seen money like that on the table. I know for our guy, we haven’t had a contract offer at all; not one on paper and only one verbal offer, and that offer was for the league minimum with a split and no guaranteed money. So that’s not even an offer; that’s an insult. For these guys to have no jobs right now you can’t tell me ‘that’s just the market.’ That’s BS.”

“The guy who got paid” is likely Morgan Burnett, the other member of what was viewed by some as the top quartet. The Steelers signed him for three years and $14.35MM — 27th in the league in terms of AAV. Reid currently has a collusion grievance against the NFL pending, but Boston and Vaccaro are both in their primes and have received scant interest. Our Rory Parks asked PFR readers which of these players will sign first, and Vaccaro is winning that vote. Both Reid and Vaccaro appeared on PFR’s original Top 50 Free Agents list.

Here’s the latest from around the league:

  • Adrian Peterson is also trying to fetch a contract, though age and injury concerns are likely to blame for his unattached status. Peterson mentioned the Texans and Saints again as possible fits while adding some other teams to the mix. Although, he hasn’t received much interest as of yet. “You know obviously I’ve mentioned Houston a couple of times,” Peterson said on a YouTube video (via Charean Williams of Pro Football Talk). “I feel like Green Bay wouldn’t be a bad look as well. Carolina. There’s some options out there. You know Miami. Down there in (Los Angeles). That would be a nice look, too, with Todd Gurley. You see around the league they have a two-back system. Guys are not really not pounding the ball 20, 30 times a game, so I think that leaves the door open for a couple of opportunities for me.”
  • The Eagles saw Jordan Hicks participate in individual drills during OTAs, per Jimmy Kempski of PhillyVoice.com. Hicks ruptured an Achilles’ tendon in Week 7 of last year but is believed to be ahead of schedule. After releasing Mychal Kendricks, the Eagles are counting on their middle linebacker to return.
  • Derek Barnett practiced fully for the Eagles, Kempski notes.. The second-year defensive end underwent sports hernia surgery shortly after the season ended, and it appears he’s recovered sufficiently.
  • An agent who represents some upper-echelon quarterbacks expects Aaron Rodgers to sign a deal that includes $110MM fully guaranteed within the contract’s first three years, and La Canfora writes that number may be low. Matt Ryan‘s $94.5MM in full guarantees represents the league’s current bar, and Rodgers, despite having two years left on his current Packers contract, should be able to demand a figure north of that.

Buccaneers Notes: Peterson, Front Office, Godwin

While the Buccaneers have a number of young running backs on their roster, the team could be seeking a veteran upgrade. Could that upgrade be future Hall of Famer Adrian Peterson? Roy Cummings of Florida Football Insiders seems to think so.

While the website doesn’t report anything definitive, they cite several reasons why Peterson could be a logical target for the Bucs. For starters, the organization showed interest in the veteran last offseason before he ultimately joined the Saints. Furthermore, while the 33-year-old looked like a shell of his former self in 2017, he could provide an upgrade to the team’s current options (a grouping that includes Peyton BarberJacquizz Rodgers, Charles Sims, and second-round rookie Ronald Jones). Finally, Peterson had previously worked out with quarterback Jameis Winston, meaning there’s already an existing relationship between the two.

Following an underwhelming 2017 campaign, Peterson has started posting videos of his workouts to social media in the hope that it will catch a team’s attention. Teams still might be wary after he finished this past year with only 529 rushing yards and two scores on 156 carries.

Let’s take a look at some more notes out of Tampa Bay…

  • For what it’s worth, Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times reiterates (via Twitter) that there “was no rumor that the Bucs were interested” in Peterson. The reporter also doesn’t expect the team to pursue the seven-time Pro Bowler.
  • Pat Perles, who had been with the Bucs organization for four years, has left to become a defensive analyst for Kansas football, tweets Auman. The executive had recently served as Tampa Bay’s player personnel scout. Perles has also spent time with the Chiefs and Rams organizations.
  • Receiver Chris Godwin was plenty productive during his rookie campaign, hauling in 34 receptions for 525 yards and one touchdown. Now, heading into his second year in the league, the team is expecting even more from the third-rounder. “I see him as a starter,” said offensive coordinator Todd Monken (via USA Today’s Bonnie Mott). “That’s how I see it. He’s earned the right to be a starter. Whether it works out that way or not, I don’t know. But he’s earned the right, finished the year that way … Whatever we’ve asked him to do, he’s done it well, and he’s only going to continue to get better. Why? Because he’s big, he’s fast, he’s physical, he’s smart. He’s going to continue to develop and it’s important to him. He takes care of his body, does it exactly the way you want.” Godwin will still have to battle to work his way up the depth chart, as he’s currently slotted behind Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson, and Adam Humphries.
  • In case you missed, former Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman decided to retire from the CFL yesterday.

Adrian Peterson Open To Saints Reunion

Things didn’t work out so well for Adrian Peterson and the Saints last year, but the running back is willing to give it another go. The free agent running back says he’d be open to signing with New Orleans, according to Josina Anderson of ESPN.com (on Twitter). 

Of course I would,” Peterson said. “I’m not tripping over the past, plus it would be a different look.

The Saints could consider free running backs in the wake of Mark Ingram‘s four-game suspension and head coach Sean Payton says the team would “absolutely” consider Peterson if they went in that direction. Still, the Saints are reportedly focused on those that are already under contract. The Saints have sixth-round Louisiana Tech product Boston Scott, former Bills rusher Jonathan Williams, and Trey Edmunds behind top RB Alvin Kamara.

It only makes sense for Peterson to be open to a Saints return given the lack of interest in the 33-year-old this offseason. However, it remains to be seen whether the Saints will actually pursue another go ’round with No. 28. Last year, Peterson appeared in just four games for the Saints and found himself frustrated by his place in the pecking order. In October, the Saints shipped him to the Cardinals for a conditional draft pick.

Peterson averaged just 3.4 yards per carry last year, but to his credit, he did have two 100-yard games.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Saints Would Consider Signing Adrian Peterson

After Mark Ingram was suspended for four games earlier this week, we heard that the Saints wouldn’t be pursuing a veteran running back. However, if the organization has a change of heart, they could focus in on a former member of the team. Head coach Sean Payton told reporters (including ESPN’s Mike Triplett) that the Saints would “absolutely” consider signing running back Adrian Peterson if they decided to pursue a veteran player.

“This gets back to the notion that we had some type of any argument (during Week 1) at Minnesota, which I still say there was none,” Payton said. “I think a ton of him.”

Peterson’s stint in New Orleans was short-lived, as the veteran found himself behind Ingram and Alvin Kamara on the depth chart. The 33-year-old ultimately appeared in four games for the Saints, compiling 81 rushing yards on 27 carries. He looked better during his time with the Cardinals, where he finished with 448 yards and two scores on 129 carries. While the future Hall of Famer is getting up there in age, there could still be something left in the tank. After all, Peterson did collect nearly 1,500 rushing yards only two seasons ago (on the flip side, he’s also suffered a torn meniscus since that time).

While there were thoughts that Peterson didn’t get along with Payton, it seems to be the contrary. Despite the lack of playing time, the organization still thought the veteran had a lasting impact on the locker room, especially when it came to Kamara. Peterson recently indicated that he was still interested in playing in the NFL, and he said that several teams had expressed interest.

I’m healthy and I’m ready to roll,” Peterson said. “If you want someone to help you win a championship and be productive — be very productive — you know how to contact me.”

However, the Saints seem to be more focused on rolling with their current running backs during Ingram’s absence, a grouping that includes Boston Scott, Trey Edmunds and Jonathan Williams. Payton seemed to indicate that he was still going to deploy a “two-headed monster” running attack, as opposed to giving Kamara extra carries.

“The mistake would be then Alvin gets 15 more carries, and that’s not the direction we would expect to go. I don’t think that is wise,” Payton said.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.