What's next for Peterson after the Vikings replaced him?


The Minnesota Vikings have their running back.

It isn't Adrian Peterson.

That leaves Peterson, about to turn 32 and coming off a 72-yard rushing season, looking for a job elsewhere. The rest of the NFL does not seem to be hurrying to his doorstep.

It has not exactly been an ego-boosting free agency experience for running backs league-wide. Teams moved at a leisurely pace to grab the first few available veteran runners. The Seattle Seahawks landed Eddie Lacy. The Vikings signed Latavius Murray, leading to Thursday's confirmation by General Manager Rick Spielman that Peterson "will move on elsewhere" as a free agent.

The Vikings made Peterson a free agent by declining to pay him $18 million in salary and bonuses for the 2017 season. The going rate this offseason for a veteran running back, based on the Lacy and Murray contracts, is about $5 million per season, perhaps a little bit more.

It is a pass-first league, and aging runners are about as replaceable as it gets. Any team that really wants a dependable running back can look forward to an NFL draft overflowing with talent at the position, led by LSU's Leonard Fournette, Florida State's Dalvin Cook, Stanford's Christian McCaffrey and Tennessee's Alvin Kamara.

For Peterson, it is time to keep his expectations in check and find a job.

It's highly unlikely that there will be a handsome contract out there for him. He might have to settle for a relatively modest base salary and a package of incentives that would reward him if he demonstrates that he still can be a dominant player.

There might not even be a promised starting job available, depending on where he goes.

The Oakland Raiders need a running back after losing Murray. That could be a very good situation for Peterson with a winning team, a highly capable offensive line and an excellent passing game led by quarterback Derek Carr to keep opposing defenses from focusing on him.

There have been whispers about Peterson and the New England Patriots. That's a pairing that clearly would give Peterson a chance at a Super Bowl title.

Other teams linked to Peterson have included the New York Giants, Houston Texans and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Any would make sense and would put Peterson into a potentially productive, winning situation.

But the time for Peterson to expect to be treated like a superstar on the open market is gone. It's time for him to find his best deal, with the best circumstances, and take it.


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