On Friday, the Washington Football Team shocked its legions of fans by releasing veteran running back Adrian Peterson. Peterson has amassed a Hall of Fame career during his thirteen year NFL career, and he still was playing at a reasonably high level during his two years in Washington. Apparently that wasn’t enough for Washington, who released the 35 year old running back.
The move signifies the team’s commitment to younger players. Earlier this summer, Washington released running back Derrius Guice, who was thought to be the future at the position for the franchise. However, Guice’s injury history, as well as his recent off field allegations, made him expendable. Peterson’s departure leaves the door open for a new crop of running backs to make their respective marks.
Veterans J.D. McKissic and Peyton Barber signed with Washington during the 2020 offseason. The team drafted Antonio Gibson in 2020. Bryce Love has been on Washington’s practice squad, and has yet to play in an NFL game for Washington. McKissic is mostly a reserve running back and can’t be expected to be thrust into the featured back role. Barber’s best year was 2018 with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, where he rushed for 871 yards in 16 starts. It’s possible he might become the featured back. Gibson and Love are unproven and will have to show they can handle the workload when their opportunities are presented to them.
Head coach Ron Rivera and team president Jason Wright have been entrusted with rebuilding Washington. Releasing Peterson shows their commitment to giving opportunities to young and unheralded players. That said, Washington’s offense could be one of the worst in the NFL in 2020. The only proven offensive commodity is second year wide receiver Terry McLaurin. If opposing defenses double team McLaurin, there aren’t many proven offensive options for quarterback Dwayne Haskins. Nevertheless, Washington fans will have to grin and bear the loss of Peterson, and the offensive struggles that will come with it.