Adrian Peterson is hoping to put Frank Gore's longevity to the test. Peterson, who will be 36 in March, intends to keep playing in the NFL into his 40s, according to TMZ.
Peterson said he wants to eventually win a championship and, in the process, catch Emmitt Smith to be the all-time leader in rushing yards. Peterson envisions a future where he's "a 40-year-old back out there rushing for 1,500 yards and amazing people still," according to TMZ.
If Peterson were to start averaging 1,500 yards again next season — and continue to do that until he was 40 — he would catch Smith and take the all-time rushing record. The two players are currently separated by 3,535 yards, and Peterson would catch Smith in a little over two seasons if he averaged 1,500 yards a year.
Considering Peterson hasn't rushed for 1,500 yards in a season since 2012, that's probably a lofty goal. While Peterson has remained effective the past couple years, he's mostly been used as part of platoon, or as a change-of-pace option. Since 2017, Peterson has averaged 768.2 rushing yards per year. At that rate, it would take Peterson five more seasons to catch Smith. He could technically do that at 40.
But even that feels unlikely. It's foolish to count Peterson out considering he's returned from some devastating injuries to post elite numbers, but running backs don't typically get better with age. Even Gore, who was 37 during the 2020 NFL season, has seen his production drop off the past couple years. He — like Peterson — is mostly viewed as a part-time guy now. Gore hasn't topped 768 rushing yards in a season since he was 34, hinting at how tough it will be for Peterson to maintain that pace for five more seasons.
Adrian Peterson looking for a new team
Peterson could help his case by signing with a team that could use his help. He's openly lobbied to join Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and that could be a good spot for Peterson, depending on what the team does in the offseason. Ronald Jones is still there, but the Bucs relied on a bruising back like Leonard Fournette down the stretch. If Peterson can step into Fournette's role, it could do wonders for Peterson's chances at breaking the record. With defenses keying in on Brady and the rest of the Bucs' receivers, Peterson could rip off a solid yardage total. Even then, a lot would need to go right for Peterson to get enough work.
On top of that, most NFL teams are going younger and cheaper at running back, which could leave Peterson without a lot of options this offseason. If he lucks into the right situation, Peterson's quest for Smith's record could stay alive. But considering how much luck that would take — combined with Peterson staying effective into his 40s — it's highly improbable Peterson will get there.
You don't want to rule anything out with Peterson, but this one feels beyond his skill set.
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