By Jim Weidner. When the Minnesota Vikings decided not pick up running back Adrian Peterson’s contract option for next season, which would have paid Peterson $18 million dollars, it was assumed by many that Peterson’s Vikings career would be over. The assumption became reality when the Vikings signed free agent running back Latavius Murray to a contract. By adding Murray to the Vikings backfield, it has made Peterson expendable.
The Vikings selected Peterson seventh overall in the 2007 NFL Draft. A standout running back at Oklahoma University, Peterson made his presence felt immediately as a professional by rushing for 1,341 yards and 12 touchdowns in his rookie season. Peterson would rush for 11,747 yards and 97 touchdowns during his time with the Vikings. In the 2012 season, after coming off a 2011 season where he suffered a season ending knee injury, Peterson rushed for 2,097 yards with 12 touchdowns. For his remarkable accomplishments that season, he was named the NFL MVP and NFL offensive player of the year.
But not all of Peterson’s time with the Vikings was pleasant. In 2014, Peterson had allegations of child abuse brought on him. That season, Peterson played just one game before being placed on the Commissioner’s Exempt list. Peterson returned the following season and rushed for 1,485 yards. However, the Vikings and Peterson had their relationship strained during the suspension, due to Peterson feeling that the Vikings didn’t do enough to stand up for him during his suspension.
Plus, injuries darkened Peterson’s time with the Vikings. Peterson dealt with two knee injuries in his time with the Vikings, in 2011 and last season. Last season, Peterson played just 3 games and rushed for only 72 yards, which was a career low.
Peterson’s age, suspect hands, and weak pass blocking skills also played a part in the Vikings parting ways with their former star running back. To go along with all of that, the Vikings have moved towards a more pass dominated offense, making Peterson even more expendable.
Peterson’s replacement, Latavius Murray, will enter his fourth season as a professional. Last season for the Oakland Raiders, Murray rushed for 788 yards with 12 touchdowns. In 2015, Murray rushed for 1,066 yards and with 6 touchdowns. Murray is a big back at 6’3” tall, 230 lbs., and is a pounder inside, something the Vikings will need for him to do next season.
But like with most things the Vikings do, signing Murray comes with some questions. Within days of signing with the Vikings, Murray underwent ankle surgery. Although it has been reported the surgery was just to clean up bone spurs, it still isn’t a good sign when you sign a player and he immediately undergoes surgery.
Murray will have big shoes to fill as the Vikings running back. But the Vikings needed to move on from the aging Peterson, who really is one dimensional and he hasn’t been able to carry the team into the playoffs the past two seasons like they needed him to. Murray won’t be asked to carry the offense like Peterson was, but he will need to contribute right away.