After a decade-long run as the face of the Vikings franchise, Adrian Peterson will become a free agent for the first time in his superlative career when the new league year kicks off on March 9.
Peterson was due to count a prohibitive $18 million against the salary cap — more than twice the next highest running-back figure (LeSean McCoy’s $8.9 million) in the league.
When interested teams pore over his game film and forecast his future, they will find Peterson to be a tricky evaluation.
Between his 2014 banishment to the Commissioner’s Exempt list and his 2016 meniscus tear, he has played just 19 games in the last three years. In between, he reclaimed his spot atop the NFL rushing throne in 2015.
Running behind one of the least effective offensive lines of the 21st century, Peterson managed a league-low 1.9 yards per carry on a minuscule sample size last season. Draw grand, sweeping conclusions on those scant 37 attempts at your own peril.
Considering his fresh legs, exceptional talent level and a sterling track record of recovering from injuries, Peterson is a strong candidate to bounce back with the best age-32 rushing season in history if his surgically repaired knee is healthy. That’s a Brobdingnagian “if.”
The biggest concerns are three-fold.
Time marches on. The frequency of Peterson’s long runs declined in 2015, in line with studies that show running-back production decreases sharply from ages 28 to 30. Since the 1970 merger, backs of his age have reached the 1,000-yard mark just 10 times.
Just as problematic, Peterson is an I-formation foundation back in an increasingly pass-heavy era of specialization. The game is evolving away from his skill set.
Hours after the Minnesota Vikings and Kansas City Chiefs cut ties with their franchise rushing leaders, the New York Jets have released their greatest defensive star in franchise history.
The Jets have informed cornerback Darrelle Revis of his impending release, the team announced Tuesday.
The move was fully expected after Revis was arraigned on five criminal charges stemming from his alleged involvement in a physical altercation earlier this month.
Coming off a nightmare season, Revis was due to count $15.3 million against the salary cap for an organization squarely in rebuilding mode. By cutting the 31-year-old, the Jets will save roughly $9 million in cap space.
“Darrelle Revis is one of the greatest players to ever wear a Jets uniform,” Jets owner Woody Johnson said in a statement released by the team. “His combination of talent, preparation and instincts is rare and helped him become one of the most dominant players of his generation. I appreciate Darrelle’s contributions to this organization and, wherever his career takes him, his home will always be here with the Jets.”
There’s a strong argument to be made that no cornerback ever played the position at a higher level than Revis did as the centerpiece of Rex Ryan’s defense from 2009 through 2011.
That incredible 2009 season featured a career-high six interceptions and a league-best 31 passes defensed while holding a string of No. 1 receivers — Randy Moss, Andre Johnson, Terrell Owens, Chad Johnson, Steve Smith and Roddy White — under 40 yards. Ryan went on to hail Revis’ brilliant campaign as the best year a cornerback has ever enjoyed.
In the prime of his career, no NFL player was more competitive, more intense or more prepared than Revis. He took it as an insult if his practice opponent was not properly preparing him for each game. He was often lauded for beating receivers to their spot, running their routes as well as they did.
A seven-time Pro Bowl selection, Revis also earned four first-team All Pro nods and a Super Bowl XLIX ring with the Patriots.
“Darrelle is the consummate professional,” Jets coach Todd Bowles said Tuesday, “and one of the greatest to ever play the cornerback position.”