No matter how you slice it, the name of Adrian Peterson was bound to come in the New York Giants Free Agency Series.
You knew this was coming.
Should the Giants sign Adrian Peterson? There are arguments to be made for both sides.
Peterson is a surefire future Hall of Famer, and one of the best running backs to ever play. His career accolades include:
7× Pro Bowl (2007–2010, 2012, 2013, 2015)
5× First-team All-Pro (2007–2009, 2012, 2015)
2× Second-team All-Pro (2010, 2013)
NFL Most Valuable Player (2012)
NFL Offensive Player of the Year (2012)
NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year (2007)
3× NFL rushing yards leader (2008, 2012, 2015)
2× NFL rushing touchdowns leader (2009, 2015)
NFL record 296 rushing yards in a game
He has rushed for over 11,700 yards in his career, and has an average of 4.9 yards per carry. He also has 102 total career touchdowns.
In short, Peterson is a monster. He has it all — speed, power, agility, a high football IQ and a ton of experience. Peterson presents a higher upside than any of the running backs currently on the Giants roster — it is unlikely that Paul Perkins will ever come close to how good Peterson has been over his career.
In fact, other than maybe Ezekiel Elliott or Le’Veon Bell, it is unlikely that any NFL running back will come close to having the career that Peterson has put together. He was the best player in the NFL for a solid four year stretch, and will go down as one of the best running backs ever.
However, there are serious concerns about his health, age and salary that would prevent the Giants from taking a chance on the Oklahoma product. Peterson tore his meniscus during Week 2 of the 2016 season, and missed the entire year. Therefore, he is coming off a full year away from football due to injury. This has happened before — in 2011, Peterson tore his ACL late in the season, and he came back in 2012 in spectacular fashion, winning the MVP award and coming a mere 9 yards short from breaking Eric Dickerson‘s record for most rushing yards in a single season.
The difference is that Peterson was 25 when he tore his ACL. This time around, he’s 31. Running backs rarely play past 30, let alone stay effective. And while Peterson is a different breed of player — his skill and career suggest that — it is unlikely that he’ll play at a Pro Bowl level at 31, coming off a season ending knee injury.
Additionally, Peterson’s pedigree warrants a semi-large paycheck. The Vikings declined his option, which would have given him $18 million for the year. The Giants would probably prefer to spend money on the defensive line, or the offensive line, as opposed to throwing nearly $20 million on a running back in his early thirties.
Peterson presents an interesting dilemma for the team. The upside is there — Peterson could go through a career renaissance, whether as a lead back or in a platoon with Perkins. They could give the Giants a balanced offense by providing the teams first competent rushing event in God knows how long.
On the downside, he could be a total bust. His age could really play a factor, and the wear and tear he has experienced over his long career could come back to bite him. The Giants could lose a ton of money on Peterson if he isn’t at peak form, and if he spends time on the sidelines.
Should the Giants sign Adrian Peterson? Only if the price is right. This is a typical high risk, high reward scenario. Peterson could restore balance to the Giants offense, or he could break the teams bank and turn out to be a total bust. At this stage of his career, Peterson isn’t a must sign free agent.
Therefore, the Giants shouldn’t even think about signing him unless it comes at the right price.