Is Adrian Peterson a good fit for the Raiders?

Is Adrian Peterson a good fit for the Raiders?

The Minnesota Vikings announced Tuesday they would not exercise Adrian Peterson’s contract option for the 2017 season.

He’ll be an unrestricted free agent on March 9, giving several fan bases more than a week to salivate over the prospect of Peterson playing in their teams colors.

The St. Paul Pioneer Press reported later Tuesday morning that, according to someone close to Peterson, the Raiders could be strong a landing spot for the veteran rusher. The aforementioned newspaper spoke to Peterson’s father, who said it would be fair to throw Oakland into the mix along with several other teams.

That brings up a key question: Are the Raiders and Peterson a good match? The answer is complicated by several factors.

The home team could certainly use Peterson’s talent, but…

Peterson will be 32 years old when the 2017 season starts, an age where rushing production typically wanes. Peterson is also coming off a 2016 season ruined by injury. He played just three games due to a knee injury. He has also been hurt in recent seasons.

Even when healthy, Peterson isn't a good pass protector. That's a vital trait for Raiders running backs in an offense frequently operating from shotgun and clear passing formations, and could be an issue in the system. 

Peterson is also used to premium dollars, and it’s hard to imagine his asking price will drop near the end of a storied career. There should be plenty of suitors for Peterson, and competition could keep the price high.

The Raiders have the salary cap space to pay Peterson’s freight. Is that the best use of significant funds during an offseason where extending quarterback Derek Carr’s contract is a top priority?

There’s certainly a need for Peterson or another physical, productive running back in the Raiders rotation with DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard. Latavius Murray occupied that spot in recent seasons, but he’s set to hit the open market as an unrestricted free agent. That has always been expected, even with the prospect Murray could return to the club that drafted him in 2013.

Peterson has been incredible at times, combining speed, physicality and football smarts into his rushing style. The future Hall of Fame runner would be attractive addition to a dynamic Raiders air attack, especially running behind a hulking offensive line.

There are, however, a few more issues to consider. The first is his link to a child abuse, which prompted a season-long suspension under the NFL’s personal conduct policy. Peterson reached a plea deal on the case that mandated probation. Raiders owner Mark Davis has no tolerance for domestic violence, and has been against the league employing people with those issues. It’s uncertain how Davis would view the Peterson case.

While Peterson is set for unrestricted free agency, he’ll headline an incredibly deep class.

The Kansas City Chiefs released Jamaal Charles also later Tuesday morning, putting another productive, yet aging rusher out there. Eddie Lacy, LeGarrette Blount, Isaiah Crowell – he’s a restricted free agent – and Murray were already set to hit the open market.

They’ll do so just before a deep class of young running backs become available in the NFL Draft. The Raiders have a history of mining talent from lower rounds – Murray was a sixth round pick, Washington was taken in the fifth and Richard was an unrestricted free agent.

The Raiders have cheaper, younger options when it comes to their backfield. Peterson is a big name and an intriguing talent who will be followed closely as he navigates free agency.

Aldon Smith back in custody after police say he violated restraining order


Aldon Smith back in custody after police say he violated restraining order

SAN FRANCISCO — Former Oakland Raiders player Aldon Smith surrendered to police Friday on charges he violated a domestic violence restraining order.

San Francisco police said the 28-year-old Smith turned himself and was booked on three misdemeanor charges of violating a court order to stay away from a domestic violence victim.

Earlier this month, Smith pleaded not guilty to domestic violence and other charges and a judge issued a protective order prohibiting him from contacting the victim.

Police said Smith violated the restraining order earlier this week.

Smith’s attorney, Joshua Bentley, did not return a voicemail message from The Associated Press seeking comment.

The Raiders released the linebacker days after his arrest on the domestic violence charges.

He had been on the suspended list since late 2015 for violating the NFL’s policy on substance abuse.

Raiders retain E.J. Manuel, now have four QBs on the roster


Raiders retain E.J. Manuel, now have four QBs on the roster

The Raiders have a lot of quarterbacks under contract, certainly more than they’ll have come September.

That means the battle to be Derek Carr’s backup should be fierce. EJ Manuel had that title last year, with a shot to retain it after re-signing with the club on Thursday afternoon.

Veteran Josh Johnson signed up Monday, and those two will join third-year man Connor Cook behind Carr on the depth chart.

New head coach Jon Gruden loved Cook coming out of the draft, but the Michigan State alum failed to earn the backup job last season and must make a move up the depth chart to kickstart his career.

Manuel has a strong arm and starting experience, making him a steady and solid backup option. He completed 24-of-43 passes for 265 yards, a touchdown and an interception in two games when Carr was hurt.

Johnson might be a camp arm at this point, though he’ll be given a chance to compete this spring and summer.

Carr has been hurt for at least a small stretch in each of the last two seasons. Having Manuel in that spot might offer stability.

Gruden addressed last year’s backup quarterbacks last month at the NFL Scouting Combine.

Gruden on Manuel: “I think EJ is a young, talented guy,” Gruden said. “He’s been in the facility working out on his own every day. There is a bright upside to him, too, as a young quarterback to keep working with. He’s a free agent, but the Philadelphia Eagles proved that’s a pretty damn important position, isn’t it? Right? So we have to address that and see where we are.”

Gruden on Cook: “I am kind of surprised Connor hasn’t played in two years, other than the playoff game he got in as a rookie. After Derek got hurt last year, they turned the ball to EJ. I don’t know where Connor Cook is. I am frustrated right now that I can’t spend any time with him, but, April 9th (when the Raiders offeseason program starts) will be an exciting day for me and Connor Cook.”