A day before its roster has to be trimmed for the start of the season, Washington announced early Friday that it had released veteran running back Adrian Peterson.
Peterson, 35, led the team in rushing the last two seasons and appeared to be the team’s surest offensive option at the start of the offseason. But as training camp progressed, his role diminished as the younger backs on the roster – namely third-round rookie Antonio Gibson – received more reps with the first-team offense.
His exit, coupled with the earlier release of Derrius Guice, has all but overhauled the team’s rushing corps. Leading the group now is a pair of receiver converts in Gibson and free agent acquisition J.D. McKissic. The team also has Peyton Barber, a former undrafted back who played the last four seasons in Tampa, and Bryce Love, a second-year back out of Stanford who spent his rookie season on injured reserve.
Coach Ron Rivera often referred to Peterson as a tone-setter for Washington’s young offense and the team as a whole. But his place within the offense became murky as Gibson emerged. Peterson, who was entering his 14th NFL season and the last on his contract with Washington, has no intention of retiring, according to a person with knowledge of the situation. The veteran back indicated as much when he told reporters two weeks ago that he’d like to tack on another two, maybe even five, years to his career.
Peterson totaled 1,940 rushing yards (4.2 yards per carry) in his two years with Washington to rank 11th among running backs in that span. He sits at No. 5 in the NFL with a career 14,216 rushing yards, needing 1,132 to leap to third place, behind Emmitt Smith (18,355) and Walter Payton (16,726). Among players with at least 2,500 career carries, Peterson’s rushing average of 4.68 yards is second all-time, behind Barry Sanders’ 4.99 yards.
Washington exercised his 2020 contract option earlier in the year. By releasing him now, the team saves roughly $2.5 million in salary-cap space, according to OvertheCap.com.
COWBOYS: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix signed with Dallas in March, hoping to revive his career by reuniting with former coach Mike McCarthy while shoring up the safety position. The dream ended on Thursday as the Cowboys released Clinton-Dix after a disappointing training camp.
Clinton-Dix signed a one-year deal with $2.25 million guaranteed, but his release will give the Cowboys $1.5 million in salary cap relief. The Packers drafted Clinton-Dix 21st overall in 2014. He had 14 of his 16 career interceptions with Green Bay, including a career-high five in 2016. The Packers traded him to Washington during the 2018 season, and Clinton-Dix spent last year in Chicago.