Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson was reinstated by the NFL on Friday after nearly a full season away from football.
The question now is, will he remain a Viking, or will Minnesota trade him away?
The most likely scenario is that Peterson stays a Viking. Even though Peterson is now 30 and his salary cap figure in 2015 is $15.4 million, Peterson is an amazing talent and it appears the Vikes want to mend fences and keep Peterson in the offense.
But it’s also been reported that Peterson could be traded.
And if it does come to that, some believe Peterson could wind up in Oakland.
Mike Freeman, Bleacher Report’s lead NFL writer, wrote Thursday that the most likely landing spots for Peterson would be the Cowboys, the Cardinals or the Raiders. Freeman quoted one NFL general manager (who chose to remain anonymous) as saying the Raiders are right there with Dallas as a front-runner for Peterson.
The Raiders, after all, still have enough space under the salary cap to pay Peterson, and have a desire to get better, fast. Plus, new Raiders offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave was the Vikings’ coordinator when Peterson had his best season in 2012. And Peterson – even at 30 – is likely fresh from a year off and ready to show he’s the same explosive, tough and fast running back he was before 2014. In 2013, he gained 1,266 yards and averaged 4.5 yards per carry. In 2012, he averaged 6.0 yards per touch and amassed 2,097 yards rushing.
Freeman, in fact, believes Peterson will come back this season as strong as ever and that the standard line of thinking that a running back’s talents evaporate at age 30 don’t have any relevance when talking about Peterson.
“Peterson is superhuman enough where he could beat the Curse of the 30-Year-Old Back for two or three more years,” he wrote. “He’s that much of a freak.”
But would the Raiders go all in for Peterson?
Bill Williamson, who covers the Raiders for ESPN.com, doesn’t think so. He believes general manager Reggie McKenzie may be unwilling to trade a high pick to the Vikings for Peterson.
“McKenzie holds his draft picks dear and he continues to build the roster,” wrote Williamson. “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.”
It’s possible that the Raiders could go after Peterson if they judge he could help them for several seasons – that they wouldn’t be surrendering a big part of their future – and that the salary-cap hit is worth it, writes Williamson. But he doesn’t believe it’s likely.
If the bridge between the Vikes and Peterson doesn’t quickly get repaired, however, the rumors about trading him to Oakland could soon get louder.