Should the Minnesota Vikings Consider Moving Adrian Peterson This Offseason?

Mike Nelson@Mike_E_NelsonCorrespondent INovember 26, 2013

Will Adrian Peterson suffer a similar fate as Percy Harvin did with the Vikings?
Will Adrian Peterson suffer a similar fate as Percy Harvin did with the Vikings?Steve Dykes/Getty Images

In short, yes.

Now, before you blast me for proposing a parting of ways with the NFL’s best running back, re-read the title of this article.

It doesn’t say THEY SHOULD TRADE.



The Minnesota Vikings should hear out offers for Adrian Peterson.

They themselves should not make proposals, but they should allow interested parties to offer compensation for the 2012 NFL MVP.

In short, there are three reasons they should.


1. Age

Peterson turns 29 years old in March.

Once a running back turns 30, that’s typically when his career clock begins to wind closer to its end.

Below is a table containing stats recent great running backs posted before the age of 30 (the season the running back turned 30 is not compiled in with these stats, even if the back turned it during the season; averages are rounded up or rounded down).

PlayerCarriesRushing YardsRushing TouchdownsPer Year Averages
LaDainian Tomlinson2,65711,760 (4.4 per carry)126332-1,470-16 over eight seasons
Jamal Lewis2,39010,107 (4.2 per carry)58266-1,123-6 over nine seasons
Priest Holmes1,0995,272 (4.8 per carry)39220-1,054-8 over five seasons
Shaun Alexander1,9698,713 (4.4 per carry)96281-1,245-14 over seven seasons
Emmitt Smith2,91412,566 (4.3 per carry)125324-1,396-14 over nine seasons
Jerome Bettis2,68610,876 (4.1 per carry)53298-1,208-9 over nine seasons
Edgerrin James2,84911,607 (4.1 per carry)77317-1,290-9 over nine seasons
Adrian Peterson1,9809,846 (5.0 per carry)86

283-1,407-12 over six-plus seasons

You'll notice Jamal Lewis sits at the bottom of this totem pole, and his averages are pretty damn good: 266 carries for 1,123 yards and six rushing touchdowns per season. 

He could start for my team any day, as could any of these running backs. 

Between these running backs, sans Peterson, they combined for 46 seasons of 1,000 yards rushing or more before their 30th birthday. They combined for 27 seasons of 10 rushing touchdowns or more. They combined for 56 seasons before their 30th birthdays between them.

They were all at the top of their trade at some point before their 30th birthday, and some longer than others. 

Now, take a look at the performance of these decorated running backs, sans Peterson, once they reached 30. 

PlayerCarriesRushing YardsRushing TouchdownsPer Year Averages
LaDainian Tomlinson5171,924 (3.7 per carry)19172-641-6 over three seasons
Jamal Lewis143500 (3.5 per carry)0143-500-0 over one season
Priest Holmes6812,900 (4.3 per carry)47170-725-12 over four seasons
Shaun Alexander228740 (3.3 per carry)4114-370-2 over two seasons
Emmitt Smith1,4955,789 (3.9 per carry)39249-965-7 over six seasons
Jerome Bettis7932,786 (3.5 per carry)38199-697-10 over four seasons
Edgerrin James179639 (3.6 per carry)390-320-2 over two seasons

Their average career lasted roughly three seasons after their 29th birthday (30th-birthday season counted toward the above table). 

They combined for four seasons of 1,000 yards or more and five seasons with 10 rushing touchdowns or more out of a possible 22.

Injuries also took their toll on these players. 

Prior to the 30th-birthday season, the running backs (excluding Peterson) missed a combined 50 of 896 games (5.6 percent). 

In the 30th-birthday season and after, the group missed 76 of a possible 352 (21.6 percent).

So not only does productivity typically dip after 29, but so does availability. 

Now, Peterson has demonstrated a freakish ability to heal. He was playing roughly nine months after the initial injury. 

Maybe he'll enter his twilight years more gracefully than his elite predecessors. 

Or maybe he's used up his ability to regenerate, and the latter years will be filled with unconquerable injuries. 

Time will tell. 

But the stats aren't on his side. 


2. Finances

As part of the seven-year, $96 million contract signed in 2011, Peterson will be with the Vikings through the 2017 campaign. 

That season he will be 32 years old. 

LaDainian Tomlinson rushed for 280 yards in 75 carries (3.7 per carry) with one rushing touchdown at 32.

Priest Holmes rushed for 451 yards in 119 carries (3.8 per carry) with six rushing touchdowns at 32. 

Heck, Jamal Lewis was out of football by 32. 

Then again, Emmitt Smith rushed for 1,021 yards in 261 carries (3.9 per carry) with three rushing touchdowns at 32. 

But that was his last season rushing for more than 1,000 yards. 

At 32, Minnesota will pay Peterson a base salary of $15.750 million and it will count for $16 million against the salary cap. 

In his 2012 MVP campaign, Peterson counted $11.15 million against the cap. 

Now, some will argue that Minnesota owes it to Peterson to pay him for services past rendered. The humanitarian in me completely agrees with that. 

But this is business. And businesses don't make decisions from the humanitarian point of view. The business lens focuses on what the employee has done lately. 

And at that time, it's likely Peterson won't be worth $1 million per game (I know he gets paid for more than just playing games, but you get the point). 

Now, I could be completely wrong. 

As previously noted, there are elite backs who do well late into their careers. 

Peterson can be one of those guys. 

But is it worth waiting for the slide to begin? 

It's just another reason Minnesota should listen to what the NFL has to offer for its 2012 MVP. 


3. Vikings are a sinking ship, at this time

Minnesota will not evolve into a consistent winner until its quarterback situation is settled. It is as simple as that. 

Peterson demonstrated in 2012 that a player having one of the best seasons in the history of his position can lead his team to the postseason with an (at best) average quarterback. 

But that type of effort can't be the norm every season. 

Look at 2013. 

Peterson is having an elite season by NFL running back standards, but it's very average by his out-of-this-world standard. 

He's rushed for 997 yards and 10 touchdowns in 11 games with a roller coaster effort from his offensive line and a passing game that shows up as often as Austin Powers' father

And with a defense that has regressed across the board, it makes sense that the Vikings are 2-8-1 even with Peterson. 

How quickly can the Vikings right the ship? 

The front office will have to take that into consideration when deciding how to handle this situation. 



I wouldn't deal Peterson if I were the Vikings.

It's tough to imagine the potential haul matching his value to the franchise. It's also the ultimate white-flag-waving maneuver that turns fanbases on franchises. 

The Cleveland Browns secured a single first-round pick for Trent Richardson, who has one year of NFL experience and is the ripe old age of 22 (now this deal looks like a steal for the Browns, but at the time most ripped Cleveland for its move). 

What could the Vikings get for the battle-tested Peterson? 

It's tough to say. 

But that doesn't mean they shouldn't listen. 


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