In a surprising move, the Washington Football Team released Adrian Peterson today.
Peterson has been the team’s primary ball-carrier the last two seasons, accumulating 1,940 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns.
In his time in Washington, Peterson earned the reputation of a locker room leader and steady presence on the field. He offered guidance to the young running back room, and handled his time in DC with class. Despite a healthy scratch in Week 1 by Coach Jay Gruden, he still produced a season of 898 yards and five touchdowns. He also watched the organization disassociate itself with one of his closest friends, Trent Williams. Yet he remained professional and focused on the field.
The release of Peterson is based less off his production as opposed to his fit with the program. Washington appears to be in a youth movement, and recently added running back Antonio Gibson to their roster when they selected him in the third round in April. This, coupled with the return of Bryce Love and free agent addition Peyton Barber, created a crowded running back room.
Offensive Coordinator Scott Turner’s scheme also presented an issue. Turner values a dynamic back who can run and catch the ball with equal effectiveness. His thought is that these types of players provide a mismatch for the defense, and will make his offense more unpredictable. Although Peterson is capable of receiving passes in a limited capacity, it is not his natural skillset. He is more of a power runner and works best going downhill.
Despite his release, Peterson is still confident he can produce.
“I understand the system and what they’re wanting, and I showed on film I can be effective when used as a receiver,” he said. “In the one-on-one drills, I was able to show and prove I can run routes and catch the ball. And in pass protection, I was the best pass-protector we’ve got. That’s on film as well.
“It definitely caught me by surprise. I’m in good spirits because I know those things I just mentioned. Ultimately, it came down to their preference and a new direction they were going in.”
Now at 35, Peterson is a free agent yet again. In 2018, when he was released from the New Orleans Saints, he had a very limited market. With two more seasons under his belt, does he offer appeal? It will be interesting to see.
The future Hall-of-Famer sits at 14,216 rushing yards for his career, only 1,053 behind Barry Sanders who sits fourth on the all-time list. Peterson ranks fourth all-time with 111 rushing touchdowns.
Peterson has shared on numerous occasions that he would like to continue playing football; even hinting that he can do so for five more years. He now enters year 15, looking for a new home.
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