The Monday after the NFL Draft should be a day of excitement for football fans. You have shiny new toys to play with, and imagine how they will all be Hall of Fame players instead of draft busts! It’s exciting. But you know what’s not exciting?
When you wake up to every idiot out there speculating that the Minnesota Vikings single best player, possibly to ever wear the uniform, one of the best players in the NFL today and possibly in the history of the game, a guy in his prime, and the unquestioned face of the franchise who has never done anything but put the best interests of the franchise at the forefront, Adrian Peterson, should be traded.
This is why we can’t have nice things, Minnesota.
I’ll be frank, right up front with you. I’m a Peterson apologist. I would wish him to be signed to this team when he is 70 years old and only half as good as Toby Gerhart, because then he’d still be starting over Toby Gerhart. I mean, I followed this guy throughout his college career as he carved up my favorite college team (Nebraska), only to have him get drafted by my favorite NFL team. I was so excited about it I named a stupid blog after him. So, sure, I’m a little bit vested in his continued employment by the Vikings.
And hey! I’ll even admit that – in a vacuum – I GET why some people can think it’s a good idea to trade a franchise changing player in his prime (it sounds real dumb when you say it out loud, doesn’t it?). You want to capitalize on his value and get value in return by trading him for tons of draft picks and great players. You don’t want him to demand a trade, lowering the teams’ leverage, getting nothing in return, or just letting him walk in free agency some day. You are CONVINCED the NFL is a passing league (just now, all of a sudden!), and committing roughly 11% of your salary cap to one player who ISN’T even a three-down back in a passing league is just ludicrous! … Right? … right? …. Anyone?
Here’s why this entire argument is just the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. I’ll lay it out in bullet points so even the mouth breathers in rural Minnesota who love Donald Sterling can understand this, then break each point down:
- You’re Working Under A Lot of Assumptions Here
- Don’t Trade Franchise Players, Stupid
- Stop Reacting to Everyone Else
- This Conversation is So Utterly Minnesota It’s Dumb
Here we go.
You’re Working Under A Lot of Assumptions Here
One of my main issues with this conversation is just how much people are assuming in an attempt to trade a super star. You’re ASSUMING we would get proper value for him in a trade. You’re ASSUMING that with that return, that every piece of the trade would produce, providing proper value. You’re ASSUMING that his productivity is going to decline right away at age 30, despite his super-human ability. You’re ASSUMING that the rest of the team will at some point morph into the identity of every other passing team in the league, with a great quarterback, great receivers, and no need for a stallion at running back. You’re ASSUMING he won’t get better, somehow. You’re ASSUMING he won’t restructure his contract. You’re ASSUMING the team will be so bad within the next 3-5 years when he’s still under contract that we won’t need him to help us win important games. You’re ASSUMING his use and production under Bill Musgrave and Leslie Frazier the last three years is standard for new the new coaches. You’re ASSUMING we won’t need the best player on the team, actually on the team in the future.
I’m not comfortable assuming that, so we’re going to have to agree to disagree.
Don’t Trade Franchise Players, Stupid
Call me an old fuddy-duddy, but I like to accumulate good players on my team, not trade them away. What’s the point of always prepping the team for the future if you can’t take advantage and win now? Don’t get me wrong, I get prepping for the future (that’s all I think about as a Vikings fan), but at some point you need to get – and keep! – the good players on your team to actually compete with other good teams. Other teams actually manage to do this, whether they’re largely quarterbacks, receivers, linebackers, safeties, it doesn’t matter. This isn’t a position game. You need good players to win. Peterson is the best player at his position, in his prime, and hasn’t shown signs of slowing down. Why would you willingly trade that, when you’re FINALLY adding other good players around him?
Now sure, the argument can be made for player value vs. player contract. This isn’t the NBA here, where superstars make all the difference. This is the NFL, where even Trent Dilfer can win a Super Bowl. But you know what? Trent Dilfer had GOOD PLAYERS AROUND HIM. If you have good players, you keep them. On top of that, if the real issue was that we couldn’t afford to pay Peterson top dollar because we needed to give that money to a more important player, like a franchise quarterback or a shut down cornerback, I could listen to that argument. BUT. Even if Bridgewater turns into a franchise quarterback, he’s still on a rookie deal for 4-5 years. And when a shut down cornerback becomes available in free agency that you can 100% guarantee will sign with us, you let me know. I won’t hold my breath.
Stop Reacting to Everyone Else
What really bothers me about this trade talk though, is the WHY of it all. Why are we talking about trading Adrian Peterson? Well, this is a passing league now, and our highest paid player is a running back, so we should get rid of him and make our highest paid player a franchise quarterback who we don’t actually know who that is yet and then continue to follow the format that every other team in the league is doing, and …
Stop it. You know what good NFL teams do? They innovate. They switch things up. They are changing how the game is played based on match ups, not following others. Saying, “The NFL is a copy cat league” doesn’t mean you have to go out and copy every other teams’ blue print. You try doing that, you end up like the Jaguars. Or the Vikings run by Leslie Frazier. Screw that. Every other team is a passing team these days? Built to stop wide receivers and quarterbacks? Shit, run the ball at those idiots, ALL DAY LONG. Why can’t we start dictating what other teams do, instead of just reacting to it? We have a CLEAR advantage over every other team in the NFL, the only team left with a franchise running back, basically, and we’re not going to make teams adjust to that??!
That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. You don’t get rid of your advantage. You use it to ruin other people.
This Conversation is So Utterly Minnesota It’s Dumb
Of course a team from Minnesota is talking about trading their best player for peanuts. Of course we don’t think we can keep Kevin Love around and win a championship with him. Of course Kevin Garnett had to go for Ryan Gomes, it was the only way. Randy Moss was finished, it’s best we traded him for Troy Williamson. We don’t deserve these good players in their primes. We should just get rid of them because woe is us, we’re such a poor state of sports because we’re always thinking about saving money, doing what’s best for the franchise, and waiting for another miracle to happen.
Dudes, the miracle was that we drafted Adrian Peterson in the first place. Work with that. Maybe, you know, ASK if he’d be willing to restructure his contract to stay here and team up with Teddy Bridgewater and Mike Zimmer’s awesome defense. It’s not that hard.
But, no. Vikings fans will convince themselves that they should trade him for a first round pick in 2015 and a third rounder in 2016, which we’ll use to draft a no-name, under-performing cornerback and swing offensive linemen, while we also sign a journey-man running back in free agency that flounders his way through a 1,200 yard, four touchdown season because we saved so much money by getting rid of Peterson’s cap space. That sounds like a much better plan.
Because, Vikings football, I guess. Enjoy it.