Packers Rumors: Adrian Peterson in Green Bay?

For years, Vikings running back Adrian Peterson has been a familiar foe for the Packers. Now, the star back is likely headed to a new team. Could Peterson be the next free agent signing for Green Bay from an NFC North division opponent?

Former Packers linebacker Brady Poppinga asked CBS Sports’ Joel Corry about Peterson signing with Green Bay, and Corry responded:

Minnesota has yet to officially release Peterson, though it’s most likely in the near future. The Vikings owe him a $6 million roster bonus on March 12, and his salary for the 2017 season is $11.75 million. If the two cannot restructure his contract, Minnesota is expected to release him.

When evaluating where he may land, it’s noteworthy that Peterson has played 17 career games against the Packers, more than any other team. In those games, he’s averaged 5.1 yards per carry and scored 14 touchdowns. 

Injuries are beginning to take their toll on the 2012 NFL MVP and four-time All Pro; he has appeared in just 20 games over the last three years. If general manager Ted Thompson believes the 32-year-old Peterson can make an impact similar to Julius Peppers did, the front office will have to believe his injuries are behind him.

What’s the impact of the Packers signing Adrian Peterson?

If the Packers commit to a free agent the type of money Adrian Peterson is seeking, it likely means Green Bay won’t be able to retain all of their own free agents. The contract Peterson wants will most likely spell the end for either or some combination of Micah Hyde, Nick Perry, J.C. Tretter, Julius Peppers and T.J. Lang.

Adrian Peterson signing with the Packers could mean the end for both Eddie Lacy and James Starks. While Lacy is a free agent, Starks is entering the final year of a two-year, $6 million contract.

What type of contract will Adrian Peterson sign as a free agent? 

If he is released by Minnesota, what will be his market as a free agent? Corry reported Peterson expects to be paid more than Raiders back Latavius Murray. Murray’s entering free agency, and early expectations for his contract are between $5 million to $6 million annually. 

Green Bay signed linebacker Julius Peppers to a three-year, $26 million contract in 2014, but it’s unlikely Adrian Peterson would see a similar windfall from general manager Ted Thompson. Peterson is two years younger than Peppers was when he signed with the Packers, but running backs historically have had shorter careers than almost any other position.

Last season, the Bears released running back Matt Forte. Peppers, a former teammate in Chicago, was reportedly wooing the 30-year-old Forte to join the Packers. Ultimately, the New York Jets signed him to a three-year, $12 million contract.

Peterson may get more than that, but it’s unlikely to be a lot more. 

Over their last 19 games, both Forte and Peterson have seen their performances decline. Peterson has 80 more rushing attempts for over 400 more yards than Forte, but Forte has an advantage as a pass catcher, with about double the receiving yards (424 versus 230). Given Peterson’s injury history and age, it’s fair to say Forte has a few more NFL seasons left.