Amid ongoing tumult with the Minnesota Vikings and his future with the only NFL team he’s ever played for in doubt, Adrian Peterson’s father told the St. Paul Pioneer Press that he’s “heard” the Arizona Cardinals, Dallas Cowboys, and Indianapolis Colts could be three potential suitors for his son.
A federal judge ruled Thursday that Peterson should be reinstated by the league, but Peterson has questioned the Vikings loyalty to him ever since he was charged with child abuse in September and missed 15 games of the 2014 season. Peterson was originally supposed to be reinstated by the league no earlier than April 15, and still could face a suspension of some kind from NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.
Peterson’s agent, Ben Dogra, also got into a heated argument with Vikings vice president of football operations Rob Brzezinski during last week’s NFL scouting combine, and the two had to be restrained. Dogra also supposed said during the altercation that Peterson won't play for Minnesota again.
The Vikings and many of their team executives have said publicly that they want Peterson back.
Currently under contract with the Vikings until 2017 and scheduled to make in excess of $15 million next season, no other NFL team is allowed to speak to Peterson unless Minnesota releases him.
However his father Nelson Peterson is free to speculate.
“I’ve heard rumors, Arizona,’’ Nelson said to the Pioneer Press. “I’ve also heard the rumors of Indianapolis and the Colts, going there with a quarterback the caliber of (Andrew) Luck. I’ve also heard the Cowboys, coming back home with the Cowboys, behind that offensive line that they have.’’
Of the three teams only the Cowboys have been mentioned as potential suitors for Peterson before. Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones was under fire after he took a phone call from Peterson in June of last year, and the running back told Jones he wanted to play for Dallas.
"Well, we'll see what we can do, if we can make that happen," Jones said to Peterson in front of an ESPN reporter. "Hmm hmm ... I'd like that, too ... Well, we're talking pig Latin here, but let's see if we can do that ... We're talking pig Latin here, but let's see what we can do about that. OK, Adrian, thanks."
Some accused Jones of tampering, but he later said he had no other contact with Peterson and Jones faced no discipline from the NFL.
The Cowboys are currently trying to retain their own star running back in free agent to-be DeMarco Murray, who led the NFL in rushing last season. However, should Peterson hit the open market or the Vikings decide to trade him, the Cowboys could be one of the first teams they call.
Murray is expected to garner lucrative offers, but it’s been suggested almost any running back could have excelled behind Dallas’ offensive line last season.
Both the Cardinals and Colts have been looking for some consistency at running back for quite some time.
Arizona was the second-worst rushing team in the NFL with 81.8 yards per game last season, while cycling through a running back corps of Andre Ellington, Kerwynn Williams and Stepfan Taylor. The Cardinals could use some star power in the backfield to take pressure off starting quarterback Carson Palmer and a talented batch of receivers in Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd and John Brown.
The Colts acquired running back Trent Richardson from the Cleveland Browns for a first-round pick back in 2013, but the 24-year-old former No. 3 overall pick has made little impact in the NFL over the course of four seasons. Last season he averaged 3.3 yards per game, and in four years Richardson’s never put up better than 3.6 yards per attempt.
Indianapolis also suspended Richardson for two games after he missed the team’s walkthrough and flight before the AFC Championship game against the New England Patriots last month. However he reportedly was rushing to his pregnant girlfriend’s side when she went into premature labor, USA Today reported.
Now the Colts might decide to release Richardson and go with veteran Ahmad Bradshaw and Daniel Herron, though Bradshaw is coming off a season-ending injury. The Colts can explore several free agent options like San Francisco 49ers all-time leading rusher Frank Fore or San Diego Chargers back Ryan Mathews, but no available rusher can equal the potential production of 2012 MVP Peterson.