A couple of weeks ago, potential free agent Adrian Peterson told ESPN he was thinking about three possible landing spots if he becomes a free agent.
"New York is one of them that popped up, Tampa Bay. Houston would be a good spot,’’ Peterson said. “I’ll just stop there.’’
But maybe, had he not stopped, he would’ve gotten around to … the Dallas Cowboys.
Peterson is an employee of the Minnesota Vikings, but he’s long been enamored with the idea of coming “home’’ to his native Texas to play for the Cowboys. Now, at 32, and due for yet another big payday in Minnesota should the team opt to retain the future Hall-of-Famer (a $6 million roster bonus if he’s with the Vikings roster through March 11 and a 2017 base salary of $11.75 million).
ESPN is reporting that if if the Vikings cut Peterson for salary-cap reasons, Dallas is an option … and this is absolutely true, as it has been for about three offseasons running … if AD’s intention is to ring-chase as a backup to Ezekiel Elliott while playing on the cheap.
What the national media has done with this angle in recent years, though, is a journalistic crime. The tales of Dallas taking on AD at his big-money price were never true (though undoubtedly visions of Peterson/Cowboys merchandise sales danced through the head of owner Jerry Jones.)
The Cowboys in past years weren't going to buy a $15-million-a-year running back in his 30's. (As people were reporting the contrary last year, it would've meant Dallas taking on a player with the base compensation amounts of $13 mil, $15 mil and $17 mil over the next three seasons left on his deal). And the Cowboys of today aren’t going to spend big money on any backup running back; they’ve got Alfred Morris under contract for $1.2 million and Darren McFadden, who made that same figure last year, would likely wish to stay with the team for that same sort of money.
Peterson is special, of course; he's a "young'' 32, if there is such a football thing. And truly, the same reason ESPN is annually motivated to write this sexy tale exists as the same reason Jerry thinks about it and the same reason Adrian thinks about it. AD, a native of Palestine, Texas and who played at Oklahoma, is a Cowboys fan. ... and a fan of the idea of being part of the "Cowboys fraternity.'' And Jones is an AD fan.
So is it true? That depends on what the "it'' is. ESPN carefully uses phrases like "there is a belief in league circles'' and "could be an option.'' Tricky. But if the "it'' is, "The parties could be attracted to each other if AD is cheap and available''? Sure. That "it'' is true.
In the meantime, we’re all fans of putting “Peterson and the Cowboys’’ in a headline because it’s so much sexier than “Peterson and Tampa Bay’’ … so here we are.