According to ESPN’s Outside The Lines, Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson told Dallas Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones during a phone call this summer that he’d like to play for the Cowboys. The phone call reportedly took place in June, with ESPN writer Don Van Natta Jr. recounting Jones’ end as part of a profile of Jones that will also be featured in ESPN The Magazine.
Jones certainly loves publicity, so the fact he let ESPN in for what seems to be unguarded access is not surprising. Peterson’s desire, however small or remote, to finish his career with the team he grew up rooting for should also not come as a shock. If Jones has any desire to actually making a trade for Peterson, Vikings’ general manager Rick Spielman has hopefully already had him on the phone. If nothing else, maybe Thursday’s news spurred Spielman to make a phone call to Jones in an attempt to gauge interest.
That’s not to say I want Peterson gone. I’d love to see him retire as a Viking, and Peterson himself tried to re-establish his own desire to do just that in a statement released by the team on Thursday. But if a trade can be made involving Peterson as he enters his age-29 season, the Cowboys may be the team to make such a deal with.
Peterson has four years remaining on his contract, with a salary of $11.75 million for this coming season and escalating to a peak of $16.75 million for the 2017 season. That makes a trade difficult to say the least, especially considering the decline we’ve seen in how the league as a whole values running backs.
Jones also serves as general manager of the Cowboys, which itself opens him up for criticism. But it also means the buck stops with him on personnel moves, and if he wants Peterson it’s safe to say he’ll do what it takes to get it done. It seems unlikely Jones can be penalized for tampering with Peterson, since he did not initiate the contact and his end of the conversation seemed fairly innocuous based on the quotes that have been cited.
It’s possible Peterson will defy everything we’ve seen about running backs declining as they cross age 30, but the Cowboys would have to be at the top of the list of teams that would overvalue him at this stage of his career. Jones loves star power and headlines, and he’d get both by adding Peterson to the Cowboys’ roster.
The Vikings and Cowboys have done business before, with Dallas sending running back Herschel Walker to Minnesota in October of 1989 for some veteran players and a boatload of draft picks that set up their success in the early 1990’s. I don’t expect the Vikings to get that kind of haul from the Cowboys in a hypothetical trade involving Peterson, but a first-round pick or two along with running back DeMarco Murray would be a good place to start.