Adrian Peterson and Najee Harris are on opposite ends of the spectrum. Peterson, 36, is at the tail end of a career that will one day be immortalized in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Harris, who recently worked out with Peterson, is just starting a pro career that he is surely hoping can mimic the one Peterson has enjoyed since breaking into the league in 2007.
One thing neither player knows, however, is what team will employ them in 2021. Harris will undoubtedly find his next home during the 2021 NFL Draft. And while Peterson continues to await his next opportunity, he is hoping to join a team that has a legitimate shot at winning Super Bowl LVI.
“I’m looking for a contender. I’m looking for a team that’s built to go and chase a championship,” Peterson recently told SiriusXM NFL Radio. “That’s my ultimate goal, and I feel like I can really help to contribute in accomplishing that. A team with a good quarterback, a good defense and some playmakers on the offensive side of the ball. For me to be able to get into that type of situation would be perfect.”
A Super Bowl title is the only thing missing from an otherwise glittering career. A seven-time Pro Bowler, four-time All-Pro, three-time league rushing champion and the league’s MVP in 2012, Peterson was also named to the NFL’s All-2010s Teams last offseason. The fifth leading rusher in league history, Peterson’s 2,097 rushing yards in 2012 persists as the second-highest single-season total in NFL history.
The closest Peterson came to Super Bowl glory was in 2009. After a 12-4 regular season, Peterson, quarterback Brett Favre and the rest of the Vikings faced the Saints in one of the most exciting conference title games in recent memory. But despite Peterson’s three rushing touchdowns, Minnesota fell in overtime to the eventual Super Bowl champions.
While he may not be at the peak of his powers, Peterson is still an effective player. A 1,000-yard rusher in Washington in 2018, Peterson rushed for 604 yards and seven touchdowns on 156 carries during the 2020 season, his lone season with the Lions. He has rushed for 19 touchdowns while averaging 4.1 yards per carry over the past three seasons. Peterson’s recent numbers are more impressive considering the fact that his teams won an average of five games per season over that span.
Based on his desire to play for a contender, Peterson could possibly finding himself playing somewhere inside the AFC North. Baltimore could use a veteran back to complement J.K. Dobbins, Gus Edwards and Justice Hill. The Browns could also use a proven player who wouldn’t mind playing behind Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. Pittsburgh is in need of reinforcements after parting ways with James Conner, who has since signed a one-year deal with the Cardinals. And while they finished on the outside of the playoff picture in 2020, another option for Peterson could be his original team, the Vikings, who could use another back to help spell starter Dalvin Cook.
Along with his desire to win a title, Peterson said his “love of the game” is the main reason why he has continued his NFL journey.
“That’s really the main thing that’s driving me, on top of wanting to win a championship,” Peterson said. “How many 36-year-old guys can say they play in the NFL and are able to do it at a high level? That’s my whole mindset. I want to look back and say, ‘You know what, not only did I play because I love the game I was chasing a championship, but I was able to do it. I was able to go out there and physically perform at a high level.’ When I’m done, I’ll be able to look back and say I put my best foot forward and ended on my own terms.”