Cowboys Sources: No Planned Peterson Pursuit

The dream of Adrian Peterson in a Dallas uniform is financially viable. And the Vikings may be amenable to trading the best running back of his generation. But Cowboys sources tell us they will not be entering the 'AD Sweepstakes.' Inside, the scoop on why:



The Big Lead: No on AD

The Dallas Cowboys have decided they will not be making a bid to trade for Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, two high-placed sources tell CowboysHQ.com.

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This news comes even as the Vikings reach a reported crossroads with the unhappy superstar, who is apparently passing on an invitation to meet with team officials.

What's involved in Dallas' thinking here? The breakdown from inside Valley Ranch:

The Finances

No matter how many times ESPN erroneously writes this, the Cowboys' supposed inability to "afford AD under the cap'' is simply untrue. Here are four things this decision is NOT about:

1) Dallas' decision to pay or not pay Peterson (or anyone else) has nothing to do with having held firm with its $6-mil-a-year threshold on DeMarco Murray (gone when the Eagles bid closer to his desired $9 mil number).

2) It has nothing to do financially with the $13-million acquisition of Greg Hardy (which for now is actually a $3.2-million signing).

3) It has nothing to do with
negotiations with Dez Bryant (for whom a long-term contract would actually save Cowboys cap room.

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4) It has nothing to do with the idea that newly-signed Darren McFadden is a savior (or that Joseph Randle is trusted with the No. 1 job).

Rather, this is about COO Stephen Jones' strengthening commitment to avoiding spending monster sums on "name'' players at non-valued positions and/or at advanced ages -- in the case of the just-turned-30-years-old-today AD, salaries of $12.75 million, $14.75 million in 2016 and $17.75 million in 2017 -- in order to make a splash (a long-time franchise trademark of Jerry Jones). And the Cowboys are calculating that whatever new number Peterson might concede to in a trade/renegotiation scenario would be too near that $45 million to bother.

Does Jerry feel differently? Any thoughts he has on Peterson being a "Deion II'' -- an above-the-marquee transaction that actually transcends normal football management -- is being vetoed by Stephen, who within the corridors of Valley Ranch has made this clear with not only his actions but his words. (Worth updating: That doesn't preclude Jerry from at some point being unable to resist picking up that flip-phone. Nor, once we get through AD's mid-April hearing and once we get to the April 30 Draft, does it preclude Minny from making a call.)

The Football Evaluation

Peterson is undoubtedly a unique talent. But CowboysHQ.com has noted the following Valley Ranch view as it applied to DeMarco: “The Cowboys are in possession of a study that shows when ‘standout’ runners turn 28, their yards-per-game production goes down 18 percent … at 29, down 30 percent … at 30, down 45 percent … at 31, down 46 percent … at 32, down 55 percent.”

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The $45-mil-or-so decision has been made by Jerry's lieutenants to not bother gambling that Peterson beats those odds -- even though we truly believe that AD in a Dallas uniform in 2015 would make him the odds-on favorite for NFC Offensive Player of the Year.

The Allocation Evaluation

Reports have circled for weeks that the Cowboys were either "too cheap to pay'' Peterson (that was ridiculous) or too disinterested to bother looking (that was premature). What's happened to cement the thinking now? They've retained right tackle Doug Free at the right price and they've acquired the sort of premier pass-rush help in Hardy that the personnel department demonstrated to Stephen wasn't going to be get-able at pick No. 27 in the upcoming Draft. Those two signings free Dallas to take the best-available guy in the premier rounds ...

And what is get-able in that range? The Cowboys are in a good position to select (or move to select) a running backs like Georgia’s Todd Gurley in the first round or Indiana’s Tevin Coleman in the second round. They are in a good position to spend one-fourth to one-sixth of the money it would take to get Peterson to instead pluck a running back from the draft-eligible pool.

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We asked the question last week, of CowboysHQ.com readers and of Cowboys executives themselves: Would you rather ....

a) end up acquiring Peterson at $12 mil or so and then use the Cowboys' own first-round pick on a pass-rusher?

b) maybe end up spending less than $12 million on pass-rusher Greg Hardy and use the Cowboys' own first-round pick on someone like Gurley?

Even as you acknowledge that old running backs usually break down and that rookie pass-rushers usually don't make an impact, both answers are exciting in their own way. But the Cowboys have decided that when it comes to the pursuit of Adrian Peterson, their right answer is b).

Item by Item

*For more on the Peterson story, which we are covering in-depth on 105.3 The Fan, stick with THE Cowboys Station -- including Fish's Sunday morning show from 9 to noon.

*Heads up on the compensatory picks Dallas will be getting for losing DeMarco and the rest. Done right, this will be a Cowboys windfall in 2016, as KD brilliantly explains here.

Getting ready for the draft? Please read "The Cowboys' Six Tells and Tendencies in the Draft.''

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*Here's the inside scoop on why Dallas and Rolando McClain are prepping for a divorce.

*The Fan provides a first-person account of the pre-Dallas work of Hardy and McFadden.

*The Greg Hardy story could use a dispassionate look at the case, the court proceedings and the law. This is that look.

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