The NFL officially reinstated Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson on Friday. The moment was accompanied, as one would expect, by questions of where this supreme talent would play in 2015.
He’s under contract with the Vikings, though there’s a fractured relationship between team and superstar after he was suspended for most of the 2014 season following charges of child abuse.
The Vikings hope to keep him, but Peterson’s agent has said Minnesota isn’t the proper place for his client. That has fostered trade speculation, which will certainly heat up as the draft approaches.
The Dallas Cowboys seem to be a favorite landing spot if Peterson leaves Minnesota. The Arizona Cardinals have been involved in this talk.
Bleacher Report’s Mike Freeman and NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport have also linked the Raiders to a Peterson trade. Rapoport reported on Friday afternoon they’re on the “outskirts” of the Peterson search.
Where does that leave us? Without anything definitive.
Will they or won’t they make a legitimate push? If they do, it'll be a slow play.
Peterson ties to the Raiders are logical. They have the cap space required to trade for someone set to make $12.75 million this season and is under contract through 2017.
They also employ offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave, who ran a scheme in Minnesota that produced huge numbers for Peterson from 2011-13.
Could the Raiders use Peterson? Certainly. Few teams couldn’t. The Silver and Black have talented, yet unproven Latavius Murray atop the depth chart. They’re giving Trent Richardson one last shot and have Roy Helu Jr. as a change-of-pace back. Marcel Reece is an effective runner, but his role in Musgrave’s scheme is publicly undefined.
Peterson would fit right atop that depth chart, but it won’t happen in free agency.
The Vikings wouldn’t cut him, so general manager Reggie McKenzie would have to trade draft picks he considers gold. Given the Swiss cheese state of the Raiders roster and the momentum built from last year’s draft, common perception is that you’d have to pry top picks especially from McKenzie with a crowbar.
That would seem true trading for a 30-year old running back -- a rusher's decline often starts then -- even one with Peterson’s awesome skills, durability and production.
Competition from other teams might drive up the price and become costly. It’s hard to see the Vikings parting with him cheap.
Peterson would obviously make this roster better. Would he vault them into the postseason in a year or two? Above .500? How long will be effective, and how many draftable players will be lost with his acquisition?
These difficult questions must be answered by those seeking his services. Right now, it’s fun for fans to dream him dashing through defenses in silver and black. Wait and see what develops before doing anything more than that.