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Deion: It's Adrian Peterson's choice not to sign now

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The sand is running through the hourglass in Adrian Peterson's quest to find a perfect fit in free agency.

With a loaded tailback class ready to arrive on the scene during next month's draft, the already-thin market for an aging, one-dimensional runner intent on playing a major role for a contender is due to diminish even further.

NFL Network analyst Deion Sanders offered interesting insight into Peterson's conundrum on Wednesday's edition of NFL Total Access.

"You have a choice to make," Sanders said. "Either you focus on winning and you put yourself in the line of a good team like Green Bay, which says 'I made it without you. I really don't need you. Now, you can help me get over the hump, but what is that hump worth? That hump is not worth ... $11 million.'

"So he has to make the decision: Do I take less money to fulfill my dream? Or do I try to go get that money and you can forgo my dream? That's the decision he's making. He's not on a team because he does not want to be on a team right now, not because they don't want him."

Sanders had it both ways in the prime of his career, earning Defensive Player of the Year honors for the Super Bowl champion 49ers in 1994 before Jerry Jones lured him to the Cowboys with a staggering $35 million contract in 1995. Sanders went on to tip the NFC's balance of power, bringing the Lombardi Trophy back to Dallas for the third time in four years.

He can identify with Peterson's late-career predicament, though, because he came out of retirement for the primary purpose of chasing a championship as the alleged missing piece of the puzzle for a loaded Ravens team that was billed as a Super Bowl contender in 2004.

Peterson is a free agent for the first time in a brilliant 10-year career that will eventually result in a Hall of Fame bust alongside that of Sanders. It shouldn't surprise anyone that he's particularly finicky about finding the perfect situation: a quality organization with ample salary-cap space, a respected coaching staff, a need for a featured back and a roster ready to contend for the Super Bowl.

It's more surprising that hopeful contenders in need of a quality power back such as the Packers, Patriots, Raiders, Giants and Buccaneers have allowed a physical freak of Peterson's caliber to languish on the open market for the better part of a month.

Peterson's next team won't check all of the boxes on his wish list. As Sanders elucidated, he will have to embrace the fact that he's ultimately choosing between the romance of the ring or the cold, hard cash.

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