Adrian Peterson sent the hearts of Giants fans fluttering earlier this month when he sent out the Tweet heard 'round the tri-state area. "The Giants been making some interesting moves," he wrote. And all of a sudden, many pictured him running through the Meadowlands, wearing blue.
Even though Peterson is suddenly available, and even if he's willing to come to the Giants at a reasonable price, is it smart for a Giants team with so many needs to invest anything at all in a soon-to-be 32-year-old back who played all of three games last season (and rushed just 37 times for 72 yards) because he needed surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his knee?
Yes, the Giants are going to try desperately to win another Super Bowl in the next three years before Eli Manning's contract expires. And yes, their running game last season was a mess. But that had as much to do -- and maybe more to do -- with their poor offensive line than with the play of their running backs.
Sure, Peterson rushed for an impressive 1,485 yards and 11 touchdowns while catching 30 passes for 222 yards in 2015. But that was two years and one knee surgery ago.
The Giants need to think younger and healthier as they look for a running back to split time with young Paul Perkins. And they need to focus on their offensive line, not on an all-time great player who is nearing the end of his career.
Now, keep in mind there might not be a lot to this Peterson-wants-to-come-to-the-Giants hysteria anyway. It started a few weeks back when he went on ESPN and admitted "New York was one" of the teams he has thought about joining. Giants fans -- some at least -- went crazy (mostly because Twitter is a crazy place).
Never mind that he also said "I see myself finishing off (my career) in purple," and that "A lot has to take place" for him to consider going anywhere else. Never mind that the only reason that the Giants came up at all was that one of the hosts kept shouting that the Giants could use him. Peterson agreed. He also mentioned the Bucs and the Texans before admitting "I'm just throwing random names out there."
It didn't matter because with that a Twitter storm was born, and it only got worse on Wednesday night -- whether or not Peterson really found the Giants' decision to cut Victor Cruz and Rashad Jennings "interesting", whether he meant that in a good or bad way, or whether he was talking about the New York Giants or the ones in San Francisco or Tokyo, or even the jolly green one and his friends.
Only Peterson knows what he meant, whether he meant anything, or whether it was part of a leverage play to help along his eventual return to Minnesota. But it's really hard to imagine his Tweets got the Giants attention, other than some amused curiousity. There might not be an available running back out there with the skills of Adrian Peterson, but that's only true if at his age and after knee surgery all those skills are really still there.
And it's not really worth any kind of significant financial risk for the Giants to find out.
But again, it may never get that far anyway. Peterson has a $6 million roster bonus due on March 11, and if the Vikings pick that up it triggers another $12 million in salary and bonuses and locks them into a salary cap number of $18 million. That's a ridiculous figure for Peterson at this stage of his career. The Vikings won't pay that, of course, but they likely will try to strike a renegotiated deal.
All indications are that both sides are motivated to do that. Whether they can meet somewhere in the middle remains to be seen. But Peterson has to know that his value at this stage of his career is likely higher in Minnesota than it will be anywhere else.
If not and he goes free, is he worth some consideration at the right price? Well, consider one more important factor: Peterson missed most of the 2014 season because he was suspended by the NFL for beating his young son with a stick. Yes, he paid a price for that, and yes sports fans tend to be forgiving and forgetful when it comes to players they like on their own teams.
But the Giants are still reeling in some ways from the Josh Brown/domestic violence mess -- a story that isn't over yet, since co-owner John Mara has refused to talk to the press about it (or anything, really) since before Brown was released. Bringing in a child abuser so soon after being so willing to allow a wife-beater to play for their team may not be the look that the Giants want.
So sure, the idea of Adrian Peterson on the Giants may sound great, but the reality is much different. The Giants are going to be much better off letting Perkins see what he can do, and bringing in a younger veteran back to play alongside of him. Then the Giants can use their resources to re-sign Jason Pierre-Paul and maybe Johnathan Hankins and strengthen their offensive line.
That -- far more than an aging running back -- is what the Giants really need to do before the Manning window is closed.