Every NFL team has had to say goodbye to a franchise legend at some point in time. Adrian Peterson is the best running back in Minnesota Vikings history, but his time wearing purple and gold seems to be nearing its end. As a running back, being old and expensive is never a good sign for their NFL career. Because of that, the Vikings must make a decision on Peterson’s future and how to replace him. Their solution may lie in former Texas Longhorns running back, D’Onta Foreman.
By the time the 2017 NFL season kicks off, Peterson will 32 years old and will cost $18 million against the salary cap. That is just too big a number for a player on the tail end of his career. To go on top of that, Peterson is coming off a season in which he played just three games, as he nursed another knee injury.
It is still possible that Peterson remains on the Vikings, but it continues to appear more and more likely that his time in Minnesota has hit its end. If that does happen, the Vikings should look to the draft to find his replacement.
At 6-foot-1 and 249 pounds, Foreman is a physical freak. He is far heavier than Peterson, but plays almost the same way. His size makes him appear to be a pure power runner, but he has game-breaking speed and the patience to hit any hole that comes open. Inexplicably, he was barely even mentioned in the Heisman conversation this past year, even after rushing for more than 2,000 yards.
In an age where the running back position is beginning to shift towards more dual-threat players, Foreman has the ability to stand out as a prototypical, classic NFL running back. With Peterson, the Vikings are used to a more downhill approach to their rushing attack, so Foreman is a near perfect fit in that offense.
Minnesota had the worst overall running game in the league in 2016, so there is a glaring need for change. Even when Peterson played, he showed his age and was unable to give even a glimpse of his typical form. Foreman is the type of player that can fix their rushing problems. None of the running backs on the Vikings’ roster appear to be the answer, so there is very little risk in bringing in Foreman.
Because of Minnesota’s trade for Sam Bradford, they do not have a first-round draft pick. Fortunately, the running back class is so deep that Foreman is projected to miss the first round and fall to the second, maybe even the third. The Vikings should not wait, so when they are on the clock with their first selection for 2017, Foreman should be the pick.
While offensive line may appear to be the biggest need for the Vikings, that area can be addressed through free agency and in the later rounds of the draft. They need a play-maker and someone to build around on the offense. Foreman can be that player.
There is no doubt it will be difficult for Vikings fans to watch Peterson play elsewhere, but that can quickly be remedied if they replace him with a player like Foreman. The former Longhorn will not fix all of Minnesota’s offensive woes, but it would be the biggest step towards becoming a solid unit. Bradford needs a running back to take off some pressure, and Foreman’s bruising style would definitely keep defensive fronts honest.
2017 is going to be an interesting year for Minnesota. As they prepare for the exit of the face of their franchise, they may be welcoming in the next Vikings cornerstone. No one can predict how any rookie player is going to perform in the NFL, but Foreman looks ready and has the physical ability to become a premier player for years to come.
Caleb Ikerd is the lead staff writer for the Indianapolis Colts, Indiana Hoosiers, Oklahoma Sooners and Minnesota Vikings at Endzone Score. Follow him on Twitter @calikerd.