Why Hasn't Anyone Signed Adrian Peterson Yet?

Mike Freeman@@mikefreemanNFLNFL National Lead WriterMarch 24, 2017

Injured Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson watches from the sideline during the second half of an NFL football game against the Chicago Bears Sunday, Jan. 1, 2017, in Minneapolis. The Vikings won 38-10. (AP Photo/Andy Clayton-King)
Andy Clayton-King/Associated Press

In a society where attention spans are so short, it's easy to forget, wait, what was I saying—oh yesit's easy to forget just how good Adrian Peterson was. How devastating. How powerful. How nearly unprecedented. 

There was a time when Peterson would never have entered the free-agent market because he was too valuable to the Vikings. Now, a man who was thrice the NFL's rushing leader, a seven-time Pro Bowler and a league MVP who rushed for an historic 296 yards in a game is unsigned, without an NFL home.

Is there no team that could use one of the game's best running backs, even at the advanced NFL age of 32?

When B/R spoke to around a half-dozen team executives about Peterson, the consensus is that many teams believe he's effectively done. When they watch video of Peterson, they see a player who has lost the most important part of his game: his burst.

Peterson has slowed dramatically, they believe. Not a little. Not a shade. But a lot.

In the words of one scout, Peterson is "a glorified fullback."

Still, there remains a small corps of teams who think that Peterson has three to four years left in the NFL and can play them at a high level.

One of those teams appears to be the Oakland Raiders, who are one of the frontrunners to sign Peterson, although there remains an unusual information outage surrounding the market interest for him. Team sources are fairly mum, likely because they don't want Peterson and his agent to play teams against one another for his services.

The conundrum teams face as they decide on Peterson is determining which player the team that takes a chance on him will get? Will they get an angry Peterson, out to prove people wrong, who can still put up 1,500 yards in a season? Or will they get a slow has-been, like Emmitt Smith going to the Arizona Cardinals in his final days?

Peterson is a physical freak, so if anyone can defeat time, it's him. After all, this is the same guy who one year after tearing two ligaments in his knee rushed for 2,097 yards.

Andy Clayton-King/Associated Press

But that was five years ago, when he was 27. Runners over the age of 30 have produced, but it remains one of the tougher things to do in all of sports. Frank Gore last year, at 33, rushed for 1,025 yards. How unusual was that? Only 10 players 32 or older in NFL history have rushed for at least 1,000 yards in a season. 

Further complicating matters for Peterson is a list of injuries that added a torn meniscus last season to his 2011 ACL tear. In 2016, he rushed for 72 yards in three games—total. (In his defense, however, he played behind a physically battered offensive line.)

Teams also remain mildly concerned, I've heard, about the reaction some fans might have to Peterson's child-abuse case. Emphasis on mildly concerned, but it's an issue.

And then there's the Marshawn Lynch situation. If Lynch comes back, as reports suggest, some teams might want to sign him over Peterson, since Lynch has been out of football and could have fresher legs. Or at least that's the theory.

All of this has left Peterson in limbo—for now. It won't last long, but it does show no one, not even Peterson, can outrun time.

   

Mike Freeman covers the NFL for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter: @mikefreemanNFL. 

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