Now that running back Adrian Peterson has been reinstated after playing only the first game of last season before his arrest on child abuse charges, the next question is where will he play in 2015?
The Minnesota Vikings are steadfast in their desire to keep Peterson, who has been reluctant to commit to a future with the team. Thus, there has been trade speculation. Among the teams that have been most mentioned in as a potential trade partner are the Dallas Cowboys, Arizona Cardinals and the Oakland Raiders. According to a story on Bleacher Report, multiple NFL general managers think the Raiders are contenders to land Peterson.
Is it feasible Peterson could soon be donning the Silver and Black? Well, there certainly are reasons why Peterson would be connected to Oakland. He had his best season, in 2012, under now-Raiders offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave. Peterson ran for 2,097 yards that season, eight yards off the NFL record.
The Raiders also have about $20 million in salary cap space, which is at the upper levels of the NFL. Peterson’s salary cap number for this season is $15.4 million. Plus, the Vikings might be more willing to trade Peterson if it sent him from the NFC and into the AFC.
Peterson would make it a crowded tailback room in Oakland. The Raiders signed Trent Richardson and Roy Helu this offseason to pair with Latavius Murray. As it stands, Murray and Richardson will compete for the starting tailback job. But Peterson unquestionably would be the best tailback in Oakland.
It is unknown if the Raiders would trade for him. Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie holds his draft picks dear and he continues to build the roster. The Raiders value the No. 35 overall pick, the third pick in the second round. The Vikings may not take less, although they want a first-rounder. The Raiders have added more than a dozen players this offseason. None is older than 28. Peterson is 30.
That is ancient for a running back, and it might be enough to scare the Raiders off.
Of the 16 Pro Football Hall of Fame running backs to begin their careers in the Super Bowl era, only Walter Payton and Curtis Martin were more productive per rush from their age 30 season on than in previous years, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. As a group, the 16 Hall of Famers averaged 4.37 yards per carry and 82.6 yards per game before age 30, and 3.92 yards per carry and 57.8 yards per game after age 30. Peterson has averaged 4.96 yards per carry and 98 yards per game in his career.
Peterson is 8,165 yards shy of Emmitt Smith’s career rushing record. No rusher in NFL history has run for more than Smith’s 5,789 yards after the age of 30, according to Elias Sports Bureau research.
The Raiders would have to judge how long they think Peterson could help them and whether it be worth the draft picks and the salary cap hit, considering where they are in the rebuilding process. In the end, there are probably better fits for Peterson, but there are clear reasons why the Raiders are being mentioned as a possibility.