If Adrian Peterson wants to play another four or five seasons, he'll have to find a new home to continue his Hall of Fame career.
NFL Network's Tom Pelissero and Mike Garafolo reported that the Washington Football Team is releasing the running back, per sources informed of the situation. The team later confirmed the decision.
The NFL's fifth all-time leading rusher might not be on the open market long. Three teams have already inquired about him, Pelissero reported, adding that the 35-year-old fully intends to keep playing. His options should become clearer once the dust settles on roster cuts around the league.
"It caught me by surprise," Peterson told Josina Anderson about his release. "I was having a strong camp. It was showing up on film, taking No. 1 reps all the way to this week. I just got notified by the running backs coach yesterday that they want to give these young guys some reps, but I didn't know I was going to get cut, there was no indication. Today (Ron) Rivera just said this is always tough, but yes we're gonna release you and go with this offensive style. I respect coach."
After 10 years in Minnesota and a year split between New Orleans and Arizona, Peterson landed in Washington and immediately became the lead back.
All Day galloped for 1,042 yards in 2018 and 898 yards in 2019, leading Washington both seasons. He averaged 4.3 yards per carry on 211 attempts last year, which included earning more 20-yard rushes (six) than big names like Todd Gurley, Aaron Jones and Alvin Kamara (five) and Ezekiel Elliott (four).
Coach Ron Rivera spoke of the leadership Peterson brought to a young RB room. But when push came to shove as cuts approach this weekend, Washington decided to go with younger, more versatile backs.
"For me it was personal," Rivera told reporters. "It was very difficult. He was a tremendous professional. He thanked me and wished us luck. It epitomizes who he is as a person. I know he's a first ballot Hall of Famer, so it's tough. ... He has more football left in him, I'll say that."
While Peterson took a number of first-team reps during training camp and was in line to start, rookie Antonio Gibson stood out. The third-rounder brings a pass-catching threat and should be the biggest beneficiary of A.D.'s release. Washington also has Bryce Love and Peyton Barber to take the early-down snaps and J.D. McKissic as a pass-catching back.
"Look, Gibson is a hell of a talent. This system really fits him," Peterson told Anderson. "I feel like I can do that pony style too, more as a receiving back. We were all working on it, but they really want one main guy to do it and they drafted Gibson for it."
Cutting Peterson comes after Washington released Derrius Guice following a domestic violence arrest last month.
Even if he's no longer all-world, Peterson can still break tackles and occasionally pop a big one. His biggest hindrance to landing another job will be finding an offense that works around his skill set. As a first- and second-down back rarely featured in the pass-game, A.D. is a relic of another era who stuck around this long out of talent and willpower. We saw how he was an ill-fit in New Orleans. It's likely a team that wants to play heavy shotgun and use its backs as pass-catchers would not entertain adding Peterson.
Still, the future Hall of Famer has proven he still has some juice left. He might have to wait for injuries to pile up to get a shot at continuing his career and keep alive the slim hopes of one day catching Emmitt Smith for the all-time rushing record.
"Trust me, I still have a lot in me, more to strive for and do again even when there's doubt," Peterson told Anderson. "I feel strong and I can build on that as the season wears on. I'll do it again."