The Minnesota Vikings recently announced that they would not be paying Adrian Peterson his $18 million salary in 2017, meaning that it’s possible we may see the future Hall of Fame running back in a different NFL uniform for the first time.
At his current state, there’s still a very good chance that Peterson can be a top tier back. He’s old for a running back, no question, but he also carried it only 21 times in 2014 and 37 times in 2016. Those “lost seasons” could just be seasons that will be added on to the back end of his career. In the other year, 2015, he led the NFL in rushing yards, touchdowns, and yards per game. He’s a great player who most likely is going to be searching for a great team. Will it be the Seattle Seahawks?
First, the Seahawks must address their offensive line issues and guess what’s being lost in this news: The Vikings have five interesting (of varying degrees) offensive linemen hitting the market. Let’s take a look at the whole lot of Minnesota’s free agents and if they make sense for Seattle.
Impending Free Agents
Adrian Peterson, RB
For the first time in his career, Peterson will be a free agent. The soon-to-be 32-year-old running back signed a six-year deal as a rookie in 2007 and then a seven-year extension in 2011, hauling in well north of $100 million not including endorsements. At this point, Peterson’s focus will most likely be which team can get him a ring rather than money or playing time. That’s why the Dallas Cowboys are reportedly one of the first teams lining up to see what Peterson sees in his future, but what other GMs think he could help them win a Super Bowl in the near future?
The Vikings, for one. Minnesota flopped after a 5-0 start but they have a good defense and definitely count themselves among the championship hopefuls in 2017 who have a major hole at running back. After all, they just lost a Hall of Fame running back! Just because they didn’t want to pay him $18 million, it doesn’t mean they don’t want to pay him anything. Staying in Minnesota also means that Peterson doesn’t have to change his lifestyle one bit and it gives him an opportunity to retire as a rare one-team superstar.
The current odds-on favorite per Bovada is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who are likely going to cut Doug Martin after his recent drug issues, three-game suspension, poor 2016 season, and non-guaranteed $7 million salary. The Bucs have means and opportunity, plus they can sell him on being a featured back next to Jameis Winston and Mike Evans to form a fearsome offensive trio for Tampa Bay.
The New York Giants, Kansas City Chiefs, Carolina Panthers, New England Patriots, Green Bay Packers, Washington Redskins, and Oakland Raiders have also been mentioned and make perfect sense in one regard or another. But what of the Seahawks?
Seattle has a clear 1-2 at running back with Thomas Rawls and C.J. Prosise, though both have worrisome recent injuries — not that Peterson can’t relate. It’s not like we can start talking about Peterson as injury insurance, especially at 32. I personally don’t want anyone to stand in the way of Rawls as the starter next season, if healthy, and I believe he could be better than Peterson at this point in their careers. Peterson would have to accept a role as Rawls’ backup, in my opinion, and I think some of the other teams mentioned make far greater sense than Seattle. Especially the Packers, Patriots, and Giants.
My first guess is that he stays with the Vikings, while the Seahawks wouldn’t crack my top 10 most likely destinations. That’s okay. He won’t be going to any other NFC West team either. (If he went to the Arizona Cardinals, they’d just be looking like the Lakers team that had Gary Payton and Karl Malone. Yeah, you forgot about that too.)
His list of possible destinations does not include Seattle at this point, but does also include the Houston Texans.
Matt Kalil, LT
Recruited by Pete Carroll at USC, Kalil followed Tyron Smith as the Trojans left tackle, then ended up being drafted earlier than when Smith was drafted, made the Pro Bowl as a rookie ... and turned out to be no Tyron Smith.
Kalil slowly but surely started falling out of favor with coaches and fans, almost not getting his fifth-year option picked up, and then missing all but two games of 2016 with a hip injury. He hits the free agent market at a low point, meaning he could be looking for a similar deal to the ones Russell Okung and Kelvin Beachum signed a year ago: one-year, $5 million, longer option after that.
Seattle could afford a $5 million left tackle and Carroll knows Kalil, but there’s more of a risk that Kalil isn’t better than George Fant than there may be with some other left tackle options out there. It’s a possibility certainly, an interesting one, but not as exciting as it sounds based solely on draft name recognition.
Brandon Fusco, RG
Other Minnesota free agent linemen include Mike Harris (missed all of 2016 with illness), Jake Long (missed all but four games), Andre Smith (missed all but four games), and Fusco, who they released a couple weeks ago along with Harris. Fusco, a graduate of Slippery Rock University, has been a starter on the offensive line since 2012. They moved him from right guard to left guard in 2015 and it didn’t go well, but when they moved him back to the right side, he apparently did even worse. The Seahawks needs at guard are less than they are at tackle, but it’s a need nonetheless. Fusco would be coming to Seattle to compete, not to start, and that would be fine.
Cordarrelle Patterson, WR/KR
It’ll be interesting to see what Patterson’s market looks like. He did catch 52 passes last season, but they only went for 8.7 yards per catch. He has scored seven receiving touchdowns in four seasons. But he is a two-time All-Pro kick returner and only just about to turn 26. I imagine someone will “overpay” him based on special teams and potential, and it won’t be the Seahawks.
Others: QB Shaun Hill, CB Terence Newman, LB Chad Greenway (retiring), LT Jake Long, RT Andre Smith, CB Captain Munnerlyn, DE Justin Trattou, ILB Audie Cole, RB Matt Asiata, TE Rhett Ellison, G/T Mike Harris, FB Zach Line, P Jeff Locke
Potential Cap Casualties
Surprisingly enough with the Peterson news, I don’t see a lot of interesting cap casualties in Minnesota. Linebacker Emmanuel Lamur, potentially cornerback Marcus Sherels, but the only somewhat shocking move would be linebacker Brian Robison. I don’t think we’ll see much more of note from this area of the Vikings, not that they didn’t already make the biggest news of February with Peterson.
More 2017 NFL Free Agent News: