The #Vikings will not exercise the 2017 option on Adrian Peterson’s contract.
— Minnesota Vikings (@Vikings) February 28, 2017
No surprise here. No way the Vikings could justify paying Adrian Peterson $18 million next year with the decline in his productivity since his superhuman 2,097 yard season in 2012. That 2012 season came after offseason knee surgery to repair the MCL and ACL he tore in December 2011.
After that 2012 season, Peterson appeared in 14 games in 2013. He still averaged about 20 carries a game, but his yards per rushing attempt dropped to 4.5. Peterson averaged a career-high 6.0 yards per rushing attempt in 2012, and his career average was 5.0 prior to 2013.
His 2014 campaign was limited to just one game due to child abuse allegations, but he came back in 2015 and appeared in all 16 of the Vikings games. In 2015 he again averaged 4.5 yards per rushing attempt en route to a league-high 1485 yards (the second-lowest league-leading total in the last quarter century).
This past season Peterson was limited to just three games and 37 carries due to injuries. After rough weeks Week 1 and Week 2, Peterson came back for Week 15 against the Colts as the Vikings were fading from playoff contention. Peterson managed just 22 yards on 6 carries, and also lost a fumble in an embarrassing 34-6 home loss to the Colts. It could be Peterson’s last game in purple.
If I were an NFL GM, I’d stay away from Peterson this offseason. Regardless of the price tag, bringing on Peterson is inviting him to hijack your offense. The guy averages 19.7 carries per game for his career, and I don’t think his future production will warrant him touching the ball that much. Picking up at Peterson at this point would be more like the Jets adding LaDainian Tomlinson in 2010 than the Patriots adding Corey Dillon in 2004.
Dillon was a very good player when the Patriots picked him up, but he was never the league’s premier running back. He was a very good player for a very bad franchise, hungry to prove himself on a contender. That fueled Dillon as he went for a career-high 1635 yards for the Patriots in 2004, helping them win their third Super Bowl in four years. Tomlinson was already a Hall of Famer when he left San Diego, and put up two respectable but ultimately forgettable seasons with the Jets on the back nine of his career.
Don’t get me wrong, AP won’t lose you games in 2017. I just question whether his price tag and baggage will be worth what he can still bring to the table in what will be his 11th NFL season.