The Adrian Peterson era with the Washington Football Team is over. This morning, the running back that has been embraced and revered in Washington, DC for the last two seasons was released. Peterson not only was the consummate professional while employed with Washington, but he was also the embodiment of toughness and durability. The adjectives that I have been hearing describe the way fans and followers have been feeling are “shocked”, “surprised”, and even “disappointed”.
The question is, should anyone REALLY be shocked by this move? If you look back, all signs have pointed to him being the odd man out since free agency and the draft took place. The team not only signed running backs JD McKissic and Peyton Barber in free agency, they also drafted rookie Antonio Gibson in the 3rd round to play the same position. In most cases you don’t draft a guy that high at running back to “wait and see” what he can do. The other dynamic that everyone needs to pay attention to is that Rivera has made it clear that he likes players that can do multiple things and Peterson just isn’t that guy. He does one thing very well, and that’s run the football and run it hard. The flipside of that is that he does not play special teams, is below average at catching the football out of the backfield, and he was not going to be in Washington’s plans for the future. Ultimately, Rivera made the decision he thought would be in the best interest of the team going forward and kept his personal feelings out of it. Right now, a lot of people are speaking out of emotional and aren’t looking at the big picture. Rivera is ONLY looking at the big picture.
Many believe this move points directly towards Washington shifting towards Antonio Gibson being the focal point of the offense. That could very well be true with the understanding that Gibson is an every down back by definition considering his ability to not only run between the tackles, but split out and run routes as a wide receiver. One thing that we all should know by now is that head coach Ron Rivera and offensive coordinator Scott Turner are on the same page, and have the same vision for the offense. Adrian Peterson just didn’t fit in their plans. I don’t necessarily believe that to be a slight to Peterson, but I look at it as a sign Rivera doesn’t care about names. He simply cares about what you are able to do for his football team and whether the pros outweigh the cons. This move reminds me of the feeling people had when Marty Schottenheimer came in as the head coach and benched all-time great Darrell Green in favor of the younger Fred Smoot, which rubbed many the wrong way. This of course is much less egregious, but it does have a lot of the same shock value considering Peterson was the one constant you could count on week to week the last couple of seasons.
Adrian Peterson deserves to be celebrated for his time with Washington for not only his performance on the field, but for how he handled playing for an organization in disarray. There were many times he could have asked for his release, or become a malcontent, and he would have been well within his rights to do. Peterson was steady, stayed hungry, and set an example for every player in the locker room for what hard work, and persistence will do for you. The future Hall of Famer still has some gas left in the tank and will be looking for a team to give him a chance to prove that. Whoever signs the veteran will be receiving not just a talented player, but a locker room culture change contributor. I sincerely hope this is not the end of Adrian Peterson’s career, but if it indeed is, I salute one of the best to ever lace up the cleats and put a helmet on. Well done sir…well done. As you were…
Photo Credit: Elijah Walter Griffin Sr/Washington Football Team