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The AP surprise we should all expect

Vikings release Peterson

Ryan Lueschen, Staff Writer

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When the 2016 National Football League season started in September, Minnesotans were hopeful for playoff success. The Minnesota Vikings had a hot quarterback in Teddy Bridgewater, the same record-setting running back Adrian Peterson, a top-5 defensive unit, and a new stadium. Disaster after disaster followed. Bridgewater suffered a possible life-threatening injury, Peterson was injured without a return date, the offensive line went through a myriad of starting combinations, head coach Mike Zimmer had several eye surgeries, and they didn’t even make the playoffs. Now, as teams decide who to resign and who to part with, many people are questioning how the Vikings will change their fortune. One recent move was the Viking’s decision to let Adrian Peterson become a free-agent. Being an unrestricted free agent in the NFL, as Peterson will be on March 9, any team will be able to negotiate a contract with him and pry him away from his home for the past 10 years. Many Vikings fans expect Peterson to stay put, but looking at the situation closer, signs point to the 7-time Pro-Bowler leaving for a new city.

Many fans want him back to be the key piece to a super bowl win. However, his production over recent years has indicated that he may not have the same special ability that allowed him to run for the 2nd most yards in a season in NFL history. According to ESPN’s stats, Peterson had 1.9 yards per carry in three 2016 games, compared to his career average 4.9. Another point to mention is that Peterson played in a total of 20 games from 2014 to 2016, causing questions regarding his durability. One statistic many people don’t pay attention to is turnovers. Peterson struggled with fumbles in the first 3 seasons of his career. He seemed to fix the problem that with only 8 fumbles from 2010 to 2014. However, it’s back. He had 6 fumbles in 2015 and one in three games in 2016. And besides all of those statistics, arguably the most important factor in a running back’s success is age. Peterson is 31, near the age where many half-backs such as all-time rushing leader Emmitt Smith started their steep decline. Hence, there is no doubt some questions regarding Peterson’s ability to perform at a high level going forward in the NFL.

The Viking’s staff may have a different perspective on Peterson. The Vikings and general manager Rick Spielman have been very wary in giving players a high price tag. Since Peterson was the Viking’s highest paid player in 2016, he will want any team to pay a lot for his services. For a team that’s looking to cut ties with an 8-8 record season, some shifting of money and philosophy may be in order. The Viking’s front office will make sure they have the best chance to win a Super Bowl being the hosts in US Bank Stadium this upcoming year.

Besides the price tag, Peterson just doesn’t fit in the Viking’s offensive strategy. Quarterback Sam Bradford had the best season of his career with new offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur. He had the highest completion percentage by any NFL quarterback ever. That’s because of the NFL’s new trend for pass-happy offenses and the ability to spread the ball to a variety of receivers. Cordarrelle Patterson and Jerrick McKinnon got a big increase in production when previous offensive coordinator Norv Turner resigned. Peterson is used to having a “ground and pound” attitude that just doesn’t match where the Vikings offense is headed.

Another factor for the Vikings is that they like to build through the NFL Draft. General manager Rick Spielman says each year that he wants to have 10 picks in the 7 rounds. Their teams are generally pretty young. Many scouts say that this is a great draft year for teams needing running backs. If the Vikings want someone who can be in the backfield for the future, now is the time to act. Players like Leonard Fournette, Dalvin Cook and Christian McCaffrey are looking to be drafted for a starting job with an NFL team, and the Vikings may be in that market.

This offseason is a big time for the Vikings. They have a lot of decisions to make about what the future of this team will work like and how they can win a Super Bowl. Adrian Peterson isn’t a clear piece to the puzzle. He costs too much money, is coming to the end of his career, and doesn’t fit in a pass-happy offense. Nobody doubts that he has the skill, but bringing in a new young running back that fits the new identity they create will be more effective for the Viking’s future. It’d be surprising to see Peterson in a different uniform, but Vikings fans are expecting changes, and parting with Peterson for good could be one of them.

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The student news site of Lakeville South High School
The AP surprise we should all expect