The Washington Football Team made a very surprising move on Friday morning, cutting future Hall of Fame running back Adrian Peterson.
Peterson, 35, had rushed for nearly 2,000 over the last two years and was expected to be Washington’s starting running back heading into the 2020 season.
Now he’s gone. And don’t forget, Washington also cut Derrius Guice in August after charges of domestic violence.
So which running back will face the Eagles when the season opens in nine days at FedExField?
Well … it looks like it’s going to be the Antonio Gibson show.
We can probably expect Gibson, J.D. McKissic, Peyton Barber and maybe Bryce Love to fill Washington’s running back stable.
But it’s pretty clear that the emergence of Gibson, a 3rd-round rookie, led to the release of Peterson.
Here’s what NBC Sports Washington’s J.P Finlay said about the team’s decision to cut Peterson:
"The truth is the emergence of rookie running back Antonio Gibson made all of this possible.
"New offensive coordinator Scott Turner's system relies heavily on pass-catching backs and motion out of the backfield. As training camp dragged into late August, it became clear that Gibson and J.D. McKissic will get a ton of work with the first-team offense, and that perhaps Peterson's workload would diminish.
"Washington Football head coach Ron Rivera also talked up Peyton Barber throughout camp, a 26-year-old downhill runner that can provide much of the same thump as Peterson."
Gibson, 22, was drafted in the third round (No. 66) out of Memphis in the 2020 NFL Draft.
A former receiver, Gibson was the seventh running back taken in the draft after Clyde Edwards-Helaire, De’Andre Swift, Jonathan Taylor, Cam Akers, J.K. Dobbins and AJ Dillons.
Gibson (6-2, 220) played receiver and running back at Memphis. In 2019, he caught 38 passes for 735 yards and 8 touchdowns; he also had 33 rushing attempts for 369 yards and 4 touchdowns. He had a short two-year career at Memphis after transferring from a JUCO program.
But he has a ton of potential:
Despite being 228 pounds at the combine, Gibson managed to run a 4.39 time in the 40 at the combine. That combo of size/speed is incredible.
Here’s how Gibson’s athleticism matches against running backs:
Even if Peterson was still on the Washington roster, the Eagles were going to have to prepare for Gibson. And without preseason games, they’re going to be going into the first game a little blind … especially because Gibson didn’t even play all that much at Memphis.
But they at least know they’ll have to be ready for Gibson to both run the ball and catch passes out of the backfield. He’s a much different weapon than AD.