The Cowboys have yet to secure a suitable Ezekiel Elliott replacement. Could this future Hall-of-Famer back be in the mix?
He was born and raised in Texas, he’s impressed Jerry Jones, and he’s not done playing in the NFL just yet. Former Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson seems like a sneaky under-the-radar pick-up for the Dallas Cowboys in the wake of Ezekiel Elliott’s release, though everything is hearsay at this point.
On one hand, the Cowboys would be insane to add a 38-year-old back to the running back room in 2023, especially one who hasn’t seen meaningful minutes since pre-COVID. Peterson dabbled on the Titans and Seahawks in 2021, posting 38 carries for not even 100 yards that year.
Who’s to say he can make a dent in the ground game today?
According to Peterson himself, he’s not quite finished in the NFL and doesn’t feel ready to hang up his cleats just yet.
Peterson told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram:
“Mentally, I haven’t officially hung it up. We’ll see what happens. My mindset is, if God’s willing maybe an opportunity presents itself and maybe it happens this season.”
There’s a good chance teams will be desperately sifting through free agent running backs to find veteran stopgaps this offseason in the event that a second- or third-string back gets injured in training camp or preseason.
Are Cowboys interested in Adrian Peterson as an Ezekiel Elliott replacement?
Peterson belongs in the retired-for-now pool but could find his way on an NFL roster given the right circumstances. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones spoke highly of him back in 2014 when Peterson was nearing the end of his Vikings tenure and on the lookout for a new team.
Dallas have their clear No. 1 running back in Tony Pollard and also have Malik Davis, rookie Deuce Vaughn, and ex-Chiefs Ronald Jones on the depth chart. If they’re still not happy with their short-yardage back options, Peterson, in theory, could be an option.
Not a particularly good option, given his age and lack of recent playing experience. Just an option.
15 years ago, Peterson was one of the hottest ball-carriers in the league, stacking up consecutive 1,000-yard seasons like flapjacks and winning every award that he could have possibly won, save for a Super Bowl.
He even had that ridiculous 2,097 rushing yard season in his MVP year in 2012 when he averaged 131.1 yards per game. Teams like the Cowboys wouldn’t have much to lose by taking a chance on a legendary veteran like Peterson, yet they wouldn’t have all that much to gain, either.
Peterson plays one of the most brutal positions in football and after two years of sitting out of the league, there’s no telling how his body will react even if Dallas gives him a relatively light workload.
As much as the future Hall-of-Famer and Vikings legend wants to dip his toes back in the NFL, he missed his window for joining the Cowboys a long, long time ago.