Breaking: Vikings will let Adrian Peterson test free agency…Bucs on radar?

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INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana – Well, that didn’t take long.

Within about an hour of the Vikings announcing that they will not pick up the 2017 option for  running back Adrian Peterson, the Buccaneers have been established as the favorite to land him in free agency.

So says oddsmaker Jimmy Shapiro, who gives the Bucs a 3/1 chance in this new race, slightly better than the Vikings, Giants and Chiefs, all of whom are rated as having a 5/1 chance of landing Peterson.

A lot of Bucs fans no doubt love this news but we’re not sure anyone with the Bucs would agree with those odds. Yes, the Bucs are in the market for a running back and yes, Peterson has mentioned the Bucs as a possible landing spot.

But do you really think the Bucs are in the market for a soon-to-be 32-year-old running back who has missed all but four games the last two years because of knee injuries?

It seems like a bit of a stretch. And as long-time Vikings writer Kevin Seifert  points out there’s more than age and durability to be concerned with when signing Peterson.

But hey, the Bucs are a team eager to make the playoffs and contrary to popular belief, a No. 2 wide receiver is not their primary need right now. A No. 1 running back is.

Of course, the other factor in the equation is cost. Peterson’s old deal called for him to make $17.5 million this season, including a $6 million dollar roster bonus that was due on March 12th.

Minnesota obviously had no intention of paying either the salary or the bonus, which is why it let him go now, but as Shapiro’s odds suggest the Vikings aren’t expected to give up on Peterson just like that.

No, they have no intention of paying that salary or that bonus, but as Peterson told ESPN’s Josina Anderson, they are still interested in bringing Peterson back. At the right price.

“I spoke with [Vikings GM] Rick Spielman this past weekend,” Peterson told Anderson. “The door is still open to find some common ground. In the meantime, I will explore my other options and see what path God leads me on.”

Could that path lead to Tampa? Shapiro’s odds aside, it seems unlikely. Sure, the Bucs will look into it, and they do have the money necessary to land Peterson. But they have options, too. Good ones.

Outside of Peterson there isn’t much available in free agency but the Bucs still have Doug Martin on their roster and they still hope to re-sign Jacquizz Rodgers, perhaps even before he hits the open market.

Oh, and then there’s the draft. As you read this Bucs are assembling here in Indianapolis for the NFL Scouting Combine, which features a deep collection of running back prospects this year.

The Bucs, in fact, have already been tied to a couple of running backs, including Dalvin Cook of Florida State, whom they might be able to grab with their first pick, No, 19 overall, but more than likely would have to move up into the top 10 of the draft at least.

So is Peterson a fit in Tampa? If a running back was all the Bucs needed to get them over the top and into Super Bowl contention he might be. But the Bucs aren’t that close to contention just yet so the guess here is they’ll pass.

But don’t bet on it.

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