Zulgad: Would the Vikings really bring back Adrian Peterson?

Should Adrian Peterson return to the Vikings?

Terrell Davis thinks so. The Hall of Fame running back said this weekend on NFL Network that he thinks the Vikings should bring back the soon-to-be free agent running back.

“It’s time to bring AP back home,” Davis said. “It’s time to bring him back to Minnesota. Think about it, Latavius Murray may be out of there. You still like Dalvin Cook, he’s going to be there.

“But remember, this is a two-back league now. You bring Adrian back. What I saw last year, there was a lot of gas in the tank and it would be phenomenal to see him finish his career off in Minnesota where it all started.”

This might sound nice on the surface, but this is one mistake the Vikings aren’t going to make. Peterson, 33, was the seventh-overall pick by the Vikings in the 2007 draft and spent his first 10 seasons in Minnesota. Peterson set the NFL single-game rushing record with 296 yards on Nov. 4, 2007 against San Diego; rushed for more than 1,000 yards in seven of his seasons with the Vikings; and led the NFL in rushing in 2008, 2012 and 2015. This included Peterson’s incredible comeback from ACL and MCL tears in 2012 when he rushed for 2,097 yards.

Peterson has played for New Orleans, Arizona and Washington since leaving Minnesota and last season rushed for 1,042 yards and seven touchdowns in 16 games with Washington. It was his first 1,000-yard season since 2015. Peterson is eighth on the NFL’s all-time rushing list with 13,318 yards. That puts him 344 yards behind Jerome Bettis, who is in seventh place; 366 yards behind LaDainian Tomlinson, who is in sixth; and 783 behind Curtis Martin, who is fifth.

Peterson’s desire to climb that list means he will continue to play as long as possible, and odds are good he would love to return to Minnesota. But the Vikings long ago tired of Peterson’s high-maintenance act. That’s among the reasons they moved on from him after the 2016 season. It was the right move then and remains the right move now.

Cook, whom the Vikings picked in the second round of the 2017 draft, has had issues staying healthy. He missed five games last season because of a hamstring injury and played in only four games as a rookie before suffering a torn left ACL. Cook is a three-down back who needs to be able to stay on the field and needs to be a  significant piece of the Vikings’ offense in 2019.

The Vikings also need to add depth in the backfield and build a unit of players who are capable of not only running the ball but also catching it and providing adequate pass protection. The latter two areas, especially pass protection, never have been a strength of Peterson’s. That was OK when he was a superstar, but now it’s a problem.

This isn’t to say the Vikings should never bring back Peterson. Signing him to a one-day contract at some point so he can retire as a Viking would be the right thing. But until Peterson decides he’s done playing, the Vikings best move will be to steer clear of him.