Sifting through Peterson’s possibilities

The Vikings still want to hold onto Adrian Peterson, but the situation doesn’t appear to have gotten any better with his willingness to return to the team. So who has the best chance of landing him if a trade were to come together? A couple of leading candidates stand out.

Adrian Peterson may or may not want to rejoin the Minnesota Vikings, but considering there have been no statements from him or the Vikings that he will be back, the trade rumors are flying.

The Vikings continue to say they want him back and they hold the cards with his contract. He is signed through 2017 for $45.25 million over the next three years. Those kinds of payouts should be palatable to Peterson in today’s running back market, as it is still the largest on an average-per-year payout at his position.

But if Peterson is going to insist on a trade, then the Vikings might be better off moving on from someone that doesn’t want to be part of their team. If putting Peterson on the trade market is a possibility, several teams have been reported as being interested, either by media accounts or according to sources.

Two of them make a lot of lot of sense, but we list them in order we think the interest and need is highest.

Arizona Cardinals: The Cardinals can’t take on Peterson’s contract without shedding more salary-cap dollars elsewhere – they have just under $10 million in cap space – but they continue to be one of the most-mentioned in Peterson rumors. The Cardinals’ leading rusher last year was Andre Ellington, and he had only 660 yards rushing and averaged only 3.3 yards per carry. The Cardinals finished with the second-worst running attack in the league, so the need is there.

Jacksonville Jaguars: With the second-worst offense in the NFL last year, much of that was attributed to their passing game, which was also 31st in the league. But the Jaguars were 21st in running the ball, with Denard Robinson turning out to be their leading rusher with 582 yards, four touchdowns and a 4.3-yard average after paying for former Vikings running back Toby Gerhart in free agency last year. Gerhart started seven games but averaged only 3.2 yards on 101 carries and scored two touchdowns. One of the reasons Jacksonville could be among the favorites to land Peterson is because of its cap position – the Jaguars have a whopping $31.6 million under the cap, the most in the NFL.

Washington Redskins: Listed as a “dark-horse potential suitor” for Peterson in a CBS Sports report, the Redskins have their leading rusher from last year, Alfred Morris, returning. He ran for 1,074 yards and eight touchdowns on a 4.1 yards-per-carry average in 2014. The Redskins were 19th in the NFL running the ball, making an upgrade at the position is possible. They have $11.2 million in cap space, so the cap adjustments wouldn’t be as great to make to room for Peterson’s scheduled haul in 2015.

Dallas Cowboys: Once considered one of the teams most interested in trading for Peterson, especially after losing running back DeMarco Murray to the Philadelphia Eagles in free agency, the Cowboys responded by signing another free-agent running back, Darren McFadden. While that alone doesn’t necessarily take the Cowboys out of the running of trading for Peterson, they reportedly were unwilling to pay Murray more than $7 million per season and then signed defensive end Greg Hardy to a one-year deal that could be worth more than $13 million – and now have only $4.9 million left in cap space.

Miami Dolphins: Lamar Miller started all 16 games for the Dolphins last year and rushed for 1,099 yards with a healthy 5.1-yard average. He also had eight touchdowns, so it’s not like the Dolphins are desperate for another running back. But like Dallas and Arizona, the Dolphins would have to make salary-cap room, as they have just over $10 million in remaining space.

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