With the first round of the NFL Draft quickly approaching, one of the main questions surrounding the Dallas Cowboys is: Will they or won’t they trade for Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson?
Several reports, including one from last year and throughout Peterson’s ongoing tribulations with the Vikings, have linked the Cowboys to the former league MVP, but nothing has materialized.
For now, with the draft starting Thursday in Chicago, the Vikings have evidently ruled out trading the 30-year-old rusher. According to NFL Insider Ian Rapoport, the Vikings insist Peterson will play for them or no one else.
Peterson was reinstated by the league earlier this month after spending essentially all of last season on the commissioner’s exempt list after he was indicted on child-abuse charges in his Texas. Peterson eventually plead no-contest to a misdemeanor charge, but reportedly felt the Vikings did not support him during the ordeal. Peterson and his agent have also publicly questioned whether Minnesota was the best place for him to continue his career.
Rapoport’s report did leave a slight window open for a deal. Vikings general manager Rick Spielman might be open to a trade with the Arizona Cardinals, and perhaps the Tampa Bay Buccaneers or Jacksonville Jaguars, though the last two could be longshots. If any deal takes place, it would be on Friday, especially if the Cardinals aren’t able to find a running back in the first round, according to Rapoport.
Even with a trade seeming unlikely now, it’s believed the Vikings would demand a hefty bounty for Peterson. ESPN 1500 in Minneapolis reported earlier this month that Minnesota could ask for at least a first-round pick and “more compensation” for Peterson, who’s rushed for at least 1,200 yards six times during his eight-year career and picked up the 2012 league MVP with 2,097 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Minnesota could be taking such a definitive stance for several reasons. For one, even though Peterson will cost them $12.75 million in salary next season, he’s still one of the best running backs in the NFL and it would be next to impossible to replace him. But the Vikings could also be driving Peterson’s price up by pitting teams in a bid war.
After letting last year’s top rusher DeMarco Murray sign with the NFC East rival Philadelphia Eagles, the Cowboys are in need of a starting running back, even with veteran Darren McFadden already in the fold.
This isn't the first time the Vikings and Cowboys were involved in trade talks over a high-profile rusher. Back in 1989, Dallas sent running back Herschel Walker to Minnesota for 18 total draft picks and players, a deal that eventually helped Dallas build its three-time Super Bowl winning squads of the 1990s, while the Vikings failed to reach the Super Bowl.
Walker gave his opinion to the Pioneer Press last week, stating the Vikings should look to trade Peterson rather than hold on to him.
"It makes no sense just to hang on to him just to hang on to him," Walker said. "I don't think that's right if you're not getting along.
"They should trade him because I think Adrian has lost his love for the Vikings with everything that went on last year," Walker said in a phone interview with the Pioneer Press. "There is a lot of bad blood right now. I think Adrian feels that (the Vikings) should have supported him throughout his tough time, and I think they should trade him if they can."
The Cowboys have seven picks in the upcoming draft, including the No. 27 overall selection in the first round, and many league analysts and draft experts have pegged them to select either Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon or Georgia’s Todd Gurley at that spot. Both are considered the best running backs in this year’s class, but rather then wait for either to develop Peterson could help Dallas win immediately.
If Minnesota manages to pry away Dallas’ first-round pick in a deal for Peterson, it would have two selections in the opening round, including its No. 11 overall pick. The extra selection would go a long way in helping the Vikings repair a rush defense that ranked No. 25 in the league last season, while finding a young wide receiver to pair with emerging second-year quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.