The Minnesota Vikings, all but out of the playoff race six weeks into the season, have put up the white flag by starting Christian Ponder. If Ponder will have any success in the league, it will still take him two or three years to mature and develop into a great passer. The question is this: Will Adrian Peterson still be effective at that point in his career?
Peterson has already carried the ball 1,320 times over his nearly four-and-a-half-year career (plus 747 college carries). Realistically, Peterson has three to four years of great production left and maybe a few lesser years, followed by him being cut before the end of the mammoth seven-year, $100 million contract. A very recent and extreme example of this was Shaun Alexander, who signed his huge eight-year, $62 million deal and then promptly fell apart over two seasons, was released and was basically never heard from again.
We recently saw what kind of trade value Carson Palmer pulled in, so what would Adrian Peterson be worth to a contender next year? Likely an even bigger group of draft picks than the famous Herschel Walker trade in 1989, and that landed them Emmitt Smith, Alvin Harper, Darren Woodson and several other role players on championship teams.
The New England Patriots have amassed four draft picks in the first two rounds of the 2012 NFL draft, which would surely help a turnaround in Minnesota for the long term, while at the same time giving the Patriots a star running back that deserves to be on a team that can win now. Would the Indianapolis Colts be prepared to give up a likely top three draft pick this year to help Manning right now with the best running back in the league? I think so.