The 2019 NFL free-agency period doesn't officially begin until 4 p.m. ET on Wednesday, but the window to negotiate started on Monday, which saw a flurry of major signings reported. Plenty of talented players are still available, including Adrian Peterson, who showed he can still shoulder the load as a lead running back with Washington in 2018.
According to NFL Network's Tom Pelissero, Washington is keen on bringing back the 33-year-old, but Peterson is going to see what he can command on the open market:
Monday came and went with hardly a whisper on a potential landing spot. Other than Pelissero's brief update on Washington's interests, the Chicago Bears remain the only other team seriously linked to Peterson. NFL Network's Mike Garafolo generated that buzz Friday, detailing his line of thinking:
Mike Garafolo @MikeGarafolo
Tracking Adrian Peterson’s situation, if he doesn’t stay in Washington, I would mark the #Bears as a potential team to watch. Depending on what happens with Jordan Howard and the RB market, of course. Brad Childress is close with Matt Nagy. A thought for down the line, anyway...
Running backs, even ones as talented and proven as Peterson, have a very short window in which they can command big salaries or ignite a bidding war. Once they hit 29-30 years old, it can be very difficult for them to generate significant interest from teams unless they are willing to take a big pay cut and/or sign one- or two-year deals.
Peterson is well beyond that age but proved he can still be an effective player in 2018. He rushed for 1,042 yards and seven touchdowns on 4.2 yards per carry. It was the first time he topped 1,000 yards and 4.0 yards per carry since 2015 when he was with the Minnesota Vikings.
Pro Football Focus digs a little deeper, showing he excelled at ripping off big plays and getting yards after contact:
Peterson put up these numbers on a veteran's minimum one-year contract worth just over $1 million contract. Considering 35-year-old wonder Frank Gore (722 rushing yards in 2018), signed a $2 million deal with the Buffalo Bills on Monday, per ESPN's Adam Schefter, Peterson must be thinking he can at the very least get Washington to shell out more cash this year by making them sweat a bit.
Washington would be taking a gamble by letting Peterson walk. The team's 2018 second-round pick, running back Derrius Guice, missed all of his rookie campaign with a torn ACL. He's a talented prospect, but Washington needs more insurance in the running game.
As for the Bears, they agreed to a deal with running back Mike Davis on Monday, per NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. This doesn't necessarily rule out Peterson, as Davis is a complementary back likely to be used as a passing option and to give guys a breather. And yet, Davis makes for a decent complement to Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen if the Bears are done tinkering.
Garafolo did suggest Howard would have to move if the Bears want to go after Peterson, but if Peterson wants Gore-type money, it wouldn't make much sense for the Bears to replace the 24-year-old Howard with a running back at the same price and nine years older. Howard has a cap hit just over $2 million for 2019, per Spotrac.
There's also the fact that Peterson isn't necessarily first in line in the free-agent market at tailback. Le'Veon Bell, Tevin Coleman and Mark Ingram are also looking for new teams in 2019, and most teams would likely take a look at those guys before Peterson.
Unless there's a sudden surge in interest or a surprise suitor, it seems likely Peterson will return to Washington at a higher salary than the one he commanded in August of 2018.