Another week, another Three Questions with our buddy Austin Belisle from VikingsTerritory.com. With last week being one of the crazier off-season weeks I’ve seen (News-wise), I thought I’d ask Austin what his thoughts were on Adrian Peterson and Free Agency.
So here it is!
1) Adrian Peterson… What are your thoughts on the Vikings not picking up Adrian Peterson’s 2017 option? Good move, Bad move?
While I wouldn’t consider this a good or a bad move, I’d call it a smart one. I’ll also refrain from bagging on Peterson more than we’ve collectively criticized him. We know he’s struggled from the shotgun and lost excess time to injuries in recent years, but he’s still one of the NFL’s greatest pure runners. Unfortunately, he no longer fits in Minnesota’s offensive plans, and his obscene 2017 contract figure makes him more of a luxury than a necessity for the Vikings. Under Pat Shurmur, the offense operates out of the shotgun 85 percent of the time and makes use of players like Jerick McKinnon as slot receivers. Paying for Peterson’s services in 2017 would only hold back the Vikings offense and prevent general manager Rick Spielman from taking full advantage of his generous salary cap allowance. Using that money on free agent offensive linemen and shoring up the team’s most glaring roster holes has to be a priority for the Vikings, who can find running back talent elsewhere; hello, 2017 NFL Draft!
2) What should we do now (At the running back position)?
Hey, look at that, my last answer provides a solid transition to this question. I actually wrote something about Latavius Murray recently, which Sam Neumann featured in a free agency preview on Vikings Territory. Here’s what I sent:
“I’d be disappointed if the Vikings passed on signing Latavius Murray in free agency, but I’d be even more upset if Rick Spielman didn’t draft any of this year’s running back prospects. What’s that mean? I like Murray, but I don’t think he’s a priority. My dream scenario would be to sign Murray, snag a certain tailback prospect from Texas, and roll with a McKinnon-led trio in 2017. Murray’s a cheaper, bigger, and more versatile Adrian Peterson, albeit, without the Hall of Fame talents. Production, age, and experience are all on Murray’s side, and that’s enough reason for me to see the Vikings kick the tires on the ‘other’ No. 28.”
I think Latavius Murray would be an ideal fit for the Vikings, but I’m an even bigger fan of Texas running back D’onta Foreman. Though he injured his foot at the NFL Scouting Combine, he’s a workhorse back who piled up over 2,000 yards for the Longhorns last season. He’d come on the cheap, he’d fit in nicely next to McKinnon, and he could serve as the goal line back to spell either McKinnon or Murray; if, of course, the Vikings go after Murray or another free agent running back.
Honorable mention: Christian McCaffrey, Wayne Gallman, Alvin Kamara
3) What is your ideal free agency period (With the salary cap being what it is now, and the players that are available), who do you want at what position and why?
Right Tackle: Ricky Wagner
Running Back: Latavius Murray
Right Guard: T.J. Lang
With $39 million available in salary cap funds, the Vikings must find a way to get the players they want, need, and covet. Lang is expected to land between $8 and $10 million per season, Wagner in the double digits, and Murray between $4 and $6 million. If the Vikings dole out top dollar for these players, they’re looking at $28 million, with more than $11 million left for any second-tier signings and the rookie pool. I know this is pie-in-the-sky thinking, but hey, you only miss the shots you don’t take, right?