Adrian Peterson says he’ll officially retire if he doesn’t sign with a team in 2023

Adrian Peterson hasn't played football since 2021. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

Adrian Peterson hasn’t played football since 2021. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

Adrian Peterson isn’t ready to officially say goodbye to the NFL.

Though he hasn’t played since 2021, Peterson, 38, told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram’s Clarence Hill this week he “mentally” hasn’t retired yet.

“We’ll see what happens,” Peterson said. “My mindset is: If God’s willing maybe an opportunity presents itself and maybe it happens this season. I’ll go from there. But (if) nothing happens this season, for sure, I will be hanging it up.”

The last time saw Peterson wasn’t even on the football field. He fought and lost to former NFL running back Le’Veon Bell in an exhibition boxing match on Sept. 11, 2022. Months early, Peterson was arrested and agreed to domestic violence and alcohol counseling after an alleged altercation with his wife at Los Angeles International Airport.

Peterson last played a snap of football eight months earlier on Dec. 5, 2021, for the Seattle Seahawks. That was the only Seahawks game Peterson played in after he spent the previous three games with the Tennessee Titans. Since 2017, Peterson played for six different teams and only eclipsed 800 yards in one season twice — for the Washington Commanders from 2018-2019.

Prior to that, though, Peterson was one of the best running backs in the NFL.

He made seven Pro Bowls to go with his four All-Pro selections during his 10 seasons with the Minnesota Vikings from 2007-2016. Peterson also led the NFL in rushing yards three times over that span, won Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2007 as well as NFL MVP and Offensive Player of the Year in 2012. His 14,918 career rushing yards rank fifth all-time and his 120 career rushing touchdowns rank fourth all-time.

If Peterson took a snap in 2023, he would be the second running back since the 1970 merger to play at the age of 38 or older. Fullbacks Tony Richardson and Lorenzo Neal also played that late into their careers.

Is there a team for Peterson?

This is pure speculation at this point considering the Seahawks didn’t activate Peterson for the final five games of the 2021 season, but there are a few teams who could use a veteran backup running back.

Peterson’s hometown Dallas Cowboys jump out as the obvious choice after the team released Ezekiel Elliott this offseason. Tony Pollard is the likely starter for 2023, but he’s recovering from a broken fibula he suffered in the playoffs. The Cowboys’ only running backs behind Pollard are Malik Davis, Ronald Jones and sixth-round rookie Deuce Vaughn.

Other teams with running back depth needs include the Cincinnati Bengals, Los Angeles Chargers and New York Giants. Peterson also told TMZ in 2022 before his bout with Bell he’d love to play for the Buffalo Bills, Los Angeles Rams or San Francisco 49ers, too.

Peterson only needs 351 rushing yards to move up to fourth on the NFL’s all-time rushing list and three touchdowns to move to third on the all-time rushing touchdowns list.

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