NFL fans now know who the most talked about free agent is going to be this year—former #Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson. Yes, Minnesota fans, former. The team has announced that they will not be picking up Peterson’s $18 million option which will effectively make him a free agent capable of signing with anyone.

The move will come as a shock to some fans, but it was the only smart move the franchise could make. Yes, Peterson is one of the greatest running backs ever to play the game. He has been the cornerstone of the franchise for years, a three-time rushing champion, seven-time Pro Bowler, and is a former MVP (2012).

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How in the world do you let someone with his resume walk?

Easy—as impressive as his career has been, Peterson was set to cost the team $18 million. The Vikings are likely going to be stuck with Sam Bradford for another season, so while they will still talk playoffs, Bradford doesn’t have the game to lead them there. So if the postseason isn’t in the picture, why should they spend so much on one guy?

Injury history and age too much for Vikings to ignore

If they could feel confident he would be the dominant guy fans have come to know and love—yes. But they can’t be sure about him. He will be 32 before the 2017 season starts. Running backs typically start to decline in their early 30s. To compound that concern for the Vikings, Peterson will be coming off his second major knee injury (first came late in the 2011 season).

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In case that wasn’t enough to worry the Vikings, he rushed for only 50 yards on 31 carries last season before getting hurt against Green Bay. Could he have already started his decline? With how he played in limited action during the 2016 season, the team has to be wondering.

Apparently, it wasn’t worth $18 million to find out.

So—what does the future hold for Adrian Peterson?

The Vikings have made it clear that they would be open to Peterson coming back but at a reduced salary. They are likely hoping that the market will not be too active for him and he will come back on his own, willing to accept a team-friendly contract.

However, Peterson has expressed a desire to play for a contender. Even with him, chances are the Vikings will be hard-pressed to win eight games next season. So, by declining his option, #The Vikings have done him a favor. He’ll be able to choose where he plays and get a shot to play for a contender as his career winds down.

Despite his injury history, there will likely be a few teams that make him an offer.

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But whether he signs with them will depend on how much he thinks he's worth relative to what he's offered. He is still confident he can be the same dominant player he has always been. However, every team he meets with will be concerned about his health and his age.

With most of the NFL using a running back by committee approach these days, no one is likely going to offer him anywhere close to what he was making with the Vikings. He has expressed an interest in the Dallas Cowboys (who don't need him), the Houston Texans (who can't afford him), the New York Giants (who desperately need him), and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (who just overpaid Doug Martin). #Adrian Peterson