The free agent running back market lost its biggest draw on Monday with word that the Pittsburgh Steelers are designating Le’Veon Bell as their franchise player. The market just added a big name, with the Minnesota Vikings announcing they will not exercise their 2017 option on Adrian Peterson’s contract.
The Vikings said they are continuing their conversations with his representatives. Barring a deal in the next week, Peterson will become an unrestricted free agent on March 9. Jeff Darlington tweeted that the Vikings could make a “strong offer” for Peterson to return, but that is something the two sides will have to discuss.
I don’t expect the 49ers to make a move for him, but it does make the running back market a little more interesting. Peterson joins a group that could include Eddie Lacy, Latavius Murray, LeGarrette Blount, Rashad Jennings, and Danny Woodhead. Isaiah Crowell is a restricted free agent, and the Cleveland Browns placed a second round tender on him, so he is going nowhere.
There is talent in this free agent class, but the draft is deep enough that I don’t see any reason to dip too far into it for someone to complement Carlos Hyde. And of course, if a team signs Peterson, it will impact the comp pick equation. Had the Vikings simply released him, it would not impact the equation. Some teams likely think more about that than others, but it will be a factor in some of the offers out there. Couple that with Peterson coming off his meniscus injury, and it could deflate the market a fair amount.