5 teams that should trade for Adrian Peterson

Despite any off-field troubles that forced Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson to miss a majority of the 2014 season, the reality of the situation is that Peterson will, by all accounts, be eligible for the 2015 National Football League regular season.

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5 teams that should trade for Adrian Peterson

1. Dallas Cowboys

It is the destination that makes the most sense for Peterson.

A native of Palestine, Texas, Peterson linking up with Dallas for the twilight of his NFL career would allow him to get a fresh start closer to home. Peterson would, were he to join up with the Cowboys this offseason, have the good fortune of running behind an offensive line that was bolstered last year, a unit that is one of the best of its kind in all of football.

Remember, also, that the Cowboys are willing to let 2014 NFL rushing champion DeMarco Murray test free agency, a decision that some observers are seeing as a sign that the club is eying a move for Peterson.

One roadblock standing in the way of this potential deal is that the Cowboys are once again on the verge of being in salary cap space purgatory.

Peterson is going to be asked to restructure his contract before any trade is even officially offered to the Vikings. Dallas would reasonably want the running back to take a massive pay cut for at least the 2015 campaign, one that Peterson may not find agreeable considering that he is in the final years of the last big deal he is going to receive as an active running back.

Add in that the previous mentioned Murray is younger and that he has said that he would consider returning to Dallas for the right price. Would Peterson, and all of the baggage that he will bring, be worth it for the Cowboys?

(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

2. Cleveland Browns

Unlike what is going on with the roster of the Cowboys, the Browns have no concerns as it pertains to salary cap space.

Cleveland will not, barring an unexpected acquisition between now and the summer, be splashing big-time cash on a quarterback, nor is the club likely to trade for the likes of Sam Bradford or Jay Cutler.

While the Browns do have a talented duo of young running backs in Terrence West and Isaiah Crowell, both remain works in progress because of their own limitations and/or maturity concerns.

Peterson would immediately be the most-talented weapon on an offense that will be without dynamic wide receiver Josh Gordon for the foreseeable future, and he would be running behind an offensive line that is better than you may believe it to be so long as All-Pro center Alex Mack fully recovers from a broken leg he sustained last year.

Going to the Browns this spring may, financially speaking, be the smartest move that Peterson can make at this point of his career. Cleveland could theoretically take Peterson’s contract as it stands today without being in a cap space position the Cowboys will be facing at the start of the new NFL year.

The Browns also currently possess a pair of first-round picks for the upcoming NFL Draft; No. 12 and No. 19. Cleveland is in as good a spot to do business with both the Vikings and Peterson as is any other team in the league. Send the offer, Browns, and at the very least attempt to make good to a fan base that has watched losing football for much of the past decade and a half.

(Photo by Larry French/Getty Images)

3. Oakland Raiders

Somewhere out there is a cynic smirking at the idea of the Raiders picking up a player who has “character concerns.” Do not waste time thinking that this is merely a gimmick idea of linking the “Black Hole” with a talented running back who found himself in legal trouble last fall.

While the Raiders are not all that close to winning a Super Bowl — Oakland went 3-13 in 2014 — the club does have the makings for what could become a solid offense.

Rookie quarterback Derek Carr showed plenty of promise in his first year in the NFL, and the Raiders are expected to add talent at the wide receiver position either in free agency or via the NFL Draft. Oakland is also expected to have more cap space than the Browns next week, and that could play a part in Peterson deciding to head out west rather than to northeast Ohio.

There is one other thing that makes the Raiders pursuing Peterson through a trade with the Vikings an interesting notion, and it has to do with the club’s future beyond wins and loss records.

One of the worst kept secrets swirling about the NFL is that the Raiders want either a state-of-the-art stadium near where the team currently plays, or the franchise is going to look to move to Los Angeles, perhaps via a partnership with the San Diego Chargers. Oakland trading for Peterson would get the Raiders in the headlines for the right reasons, that deal would sell Raiders-related jerseys and other merchandise, and it would generate positive buzz for a franchise that is flirting with other cities.

Getting Peterson would be good business for the Raiders.

(Photo by John Leyba/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

4. Indianapolis Colts

The Colts remain a team that is unable to take that next step toward winning a championship. Andrew Luck is the undisputed best young quarterback in the NFL, but his flaws curiously get overlooked by some.

Specifically, Luck throws way more interceptions than one would like to see. He has failed to post double-digit picks in a single campaign only once in his three years in the NFL, and he tossed 16 interceptions in the 2014 regular season.

Luck, and those around him, could use an upgrade at the running back position, particularly one that can remain healthy for an entire campaign AND at the same time be a dynamic play-maker across four months of action.

Peterson would fill that role.

Indianapolis has, in the past, played it relatively safe on similar preseason acquisitions; signing the often-injured Ahmad Bradshaw a couple of offseasons ago is one example. If, and that is a big “if,” the Colts can be talked into taking a risk, the time to do so is this spring.

Luck is only going to get better, but his major cap hits are coming down the road and not in 2015. The days of the Colts being gifted a division title could be on the verge of ending unless Indianapolis goes out of the way to make vast and necessary improvements. Granted, the Colts would have to get stronger on the opposite side of the football to have a real chance of winning a conference championship let alone a Super Bowl.

Peterson could make the Indy offense the best in all of the AFC for 2015, and that cannot be discounted by anybody.

(Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

It seems like it was longer than a decade ago when the Buccaneers had a roster capable of winning a Super Bowl. Tampa Bay has been more of a laughing-stock than a legitimate contender since that time, and the Bucs were downright dreadful while going 2-14 in 2014.

The club has since given up on the failed Josh McCown experiment, and Tampa Bay should, so long as the young man does not do anything silly or illegal between now and April 30, be a couple of months away from grabbing the best college quarterback to hit the NFL since Andrew Luck.

Drafting Florida State product Jameis Winston first overall would make the Bucs must-see television for a few preseason games. Pairing Winston along with Peterson would turn Tampa Bay into a football team worthy of at least one non-Thursday prime time slot.

Say, for the sake of argument, that the rumors of Peterson being interested in spending some time with the Buccaneers are true. Tampa Bay must, in such a situation, test the waters and see what Minnesota would want in return for the services of the running back.

There were times last fall when even NFL RedZone chose to ignore the Buccaneers and show scores that had occurred in the team’s games at later times in favor of focusing on contests that were, in the opinions of those running the network, more important.

Putting Winston and Peterson on the field would make the Buccaneers relevant, and that makes Tampa Bay inquiring about Peterson’s status a wise idea.

(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Arguably the greatest running back of his generation, Peterson has, per multiple reports, requested to be traded from the Vikings, but that stance could be softened following a meeting involving player and club that took place on Wednesday (March 4).

While Peterson will turn 30-years old, often the age when RB careers hit brick walls, he has also, in the past, proven himself to be an athletic marvel who was, as an example, able to make a full recover from a serious knee injury in under nine full months of recovery.

He will certainly have his suitors.

Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports reported on March 3 that Peterson has five teams in mind were he to formally ask to be traded: The Dallas Cowboys, the Arizona Cardinals, the Indianapolis Colts, the San Diego Chargers and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Peterson is, as a NFL player, well within his rights to distribute a wish list of future destinations were Wednesday's meeting with the Vikings to not go to his liking. With that said, the Vikings have no reason to go out of the way to grant Peterson's request. It was Peterson who hung the Vikings out to dry for the 2014 NFL season with his actions, after all, and Minnesota should do whatever possible to get the most value for Peterson either on the field or via a trade.

Peterson can, and likely will have to, take steps of his own to facilitate a trade to his liking at some point between now and September.

Even if he does so, however, Peterson may find that the Vikings are more concerned with looking out for the future good of the franchise than in helping out who may have, over time, become a former friend.

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For more sports coverage, please visit FanSided.com and follow Zac Wassink on Twitter: @ZacWassink
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