The NFL’s 2012 MVP is currently a free agent and still on the board after a week. Adrian Peterson will be playing outside of Minnesota for the first time since college after the Vikings signed running back Latavius Murray to a three-year contract on Thursday.
A few teams have been linked to AP since the new league year began on March 9th. Teams such as the Oakland Raiders (Murray’s now former team), the Green Bay Packers, and the Seattle Seahawks have been rumored to be landing spots for AP. However, there’s another team that has long had issues in the rushing department that has been named a potential landing spot as well.
The Detroit Lions were first connected to Adrian Peterson when he listed them as a possibility, this according to a tweet by SiriusXM NFL Radio.
Detroit was once again linked to AP after the Seahawks signed Eddie Lacy to a one-year contract, and Murray went to the Vikes. This time, it was CBS NFL Insider Jason La Confora who threw Detroit into the fire and named them as a “potential landing spot at the right price.”
Now that the Lions are seemingly in the mix for AP, we have to examine whether or not the Lions should really pursue the former MVP. Many fans believe it is a bad idea for the Lions to pull the trigger on an AP pursuit. However, there are positives to AP joining with the Lions, which leads me to believe that this may not be a bad idea for either side.
The Lions obviously won’t pay a premium to acquire Peterson. Let’s say a one-year “prove it” deal at around $5 million. His base salary will be around $1M-$1.5M, with this contract being rich in incentives that could bring it up to $5M.
Detroit gets more depth at the running back position that already consists of Ameer Abdullah, Theo Riddick, and Zach Zenner. I would include 2016 7th-rounder Dwayne Washington, but he figures more into the special teams scene, with occasional 3DRB reps.
This gives Detroit a bit of a competition for the three RB spots. I figure that AP, barring a poor preseason and camp, would make the roster. Abdullah and Riddick figure to as well. So, this means Zenner could be on the chopping block.
Peterson and Abdullah could split carries through the season, while Riddick becomes the primary 3DRB. This works, on paper at least, for a few reasons.
First, the often injured Peterson would now be behind one of the most improved offensive lines in football, as the Lions now have stars such as Rick Wagner and T.J Lang on the right side of their line, and budding star Taylor Decker on the left.
Travis Swanson also improved his game greatly, and the Lions have his successor at center in Graham Glasgow, should Swanson leave at the end of the season via free agency. The Lions even signed one of the premier blocking tight ends in the league in Darren Fells.
Next, the Lions get a mentor for Abdullah. This is huge because, if you remember correctly, Abdullah was hyped as a potential elite back for years to come last preseason. If Adbullah truly is their back of the future, it’d be in Detroit’s best interest to get him a guy with experience to compliment. Peterson is perfect for that role. He is a former MVP, he’s been around for about ten years now, and he knows how to be great. That’s what the Lions need for Abdullah right now.
Another thing that works is that the workload is split between the two, so their risk of injury is lower. Both backs have dealt with injuries in the past, but if you reduce their workload, you can take a little bit of the wear and tear off and have two healthy backs for what Detroit hopes is a playoff run.
Is signing Adrian Peterson in any role a risk? Yes, of course it is. However, isn’t every other free agent contract that’s handed out a risk? Think about it. You don’t know what you’d get out of the player you signed. Take Brock Osweiler’s deal with the Houston Texans for instance. The Texans believed they were getting a franchise QB, yet found themselves dumping him off on the Cleveland Browns a year later.
The same could be said for a number of players in the past. A free agent contract is a risk in every sense of the word. Why is AP one of the very few being singled out as a risk?
It isn’t a bad idea for Bob Quinn to open his checkbook for Adrian Peterson. No matter how you choose to view the situation. It can be very beneficial for both sides. Are the Lions willing to take the same risk they’re taking on their other free agent signees?
Photo Credit: USATSI