Peterson has already mentioned some of his preferred landing spots. The New York Giants were on that list. The question is whether that interest would be reciprocated.
The Giants have room on the roster for a veteran running back, and their running backs coach is familiar with Peterson. But does an aging running back coming off an injury-filled campaign really make sense, even if he’s a future Hall of Famer?
Why he fits: The Giants currently have Paul Perkins, Shane Vereen and little else under contract at running back. And they’re in need of playmakers after finishing 26th in points per game and 29th in rushing.
Peterson, 31, could help. He would be a high-upside signing for the Giants this offseason, given that he’s proven capable before of returning from serious injury and thriving. He rushed for over 2,000 yards in 2012 just months after tearing his ACL. Age and injuries eventually catch up to every NFL player. It just might take a little longer for it to happen to a physical freak such as Peterson. There still should be something left in his tank.
The Giants are intriguing for several reasons, none more notable than they appear to be a team on the rise. They won 11 games in 2016 and could be a Super Bowl contender with Peterson resurrecting a woeful running game.
“My main goal remains the same: to win a Super Bowl championship with a great team, which I also believe we have in Minnesota," Peterson told ESPN’s Josina Anderson in a statement on Monday.
The Giants also have a familiar face as their running backs coach. Craig Johnson was an assistant with the Vikings from 2011-13. Even though he coached quarterbacks, there is certainly some familiarity between the two.
On the surface, with the Giants in need of another running back to complement Perkins (who is coming off a promising rookie season) and Vereen (coming off an injury-filled campaign) and Peterson looking for a competitive team in need of a playmaker, Peterson signing with the Giants makes some sense.
Why he doesn’t fit: Let’s start with the Giants’ offensive scheme. They played more with three wide receivers and one running back than any team in the NFL last season. They didn’t even have a fullback on the active roster. A large majority of their offensive snaps (72 percent) were from a shotgun formation.
That would not play to Peterson’s strengths. He’s a patient, power runner with breakaway speed. He’s used to running behind a fullback in a pro set.
According to ESPN Stats and Information, a whopping 95 percent of Peterson’s career carries have come with the quarterback under center. Ben McAdoo and the Giants rarely play with their quarterback under center.
There is also the obstacle of money. The Giants aren’t going to pay a soon-to-be 32-year-old running back top dollar, especially with so much of their available funds tied up in defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul. ESPN’s Jeff Darlington reported that he still expects the Vikings to make an offer in the $6 million range, plus incentives.
The Giants, meanwhile, are busy trying to keep their defense intact. They still want defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins and linebacker Keenan Robinson to return. Peterson doesn’t appear to fit into the financial plan, even if Pierre-Paul signs a long-term deal that lowers his 2017 salary cap number.
And none of this even factors in whether the Giants would be hesitant given Peterson’s past problems. He was suspended the final six games of the 2014 season for his involvement in a child abuse case. This might be hard for any team to stomach, especially the Giants, given their experience this past season. Kicker Josh Brown was cut midway through this past season after admitting to abusing his now ex-wife.
Chances he joins Giants: 10 percent
There seems to be more working against Peterson becoming a Giant than there is working in his favor. He may want the Giants, but it’s unlikely they will want him, especially if the price point is anywhere near where it is expected. And while a running back with Peterson’s talent can adjust, McAdoo’s offense hardly seems like an ideal fit. The potential move seems to make little sense for both sides given all these factors.