Adrian Peterson is still a free agent and his goal remains unchanged.
Peterson wants one thing more than anything else: a ring. The veteran running back spoke of the type of team he'd like to join for the 2021 season during an interview with Sirius XM NFL Radio and echoed the same desire he stated in February.
"I'm looking for a contender," Peterson said. "I'm looking for a team that's built to go and chase a championship. That's my ultimate goal and I feel like I can really help to contribute in accomplishing that. A team with a good quarterback, a good defense and some playmakers on the offensive side of the ball. For me to be able to get into that type of situation would be perfect."
It would be perfect for any player, who would want nothing more than to join a team readymade to pursue a title. In fact, it sounds a whole lot like what LeSean McCoy has done in the last two seasons.
McCoy was released by the Bills during final roster cuts in 2019 and had his choice of his next destination, eventually signing with rising power Kansas City for one year. He contributed marginally, appearing in 13 games and rushing 101 times for 465 yards and four scores. His Chiefs won the Super Bowl, but he was inactive for the game.
McCoy followed a similar path in 2020, latching on with the Buccaneers with a chance to make an impact in the running and passing games. Then Leonard Fournette arrived just before the start of the season, and McCoy ended up carrying the ball just 10 times for 31 yards. His Buccaneers won the Super Bowl, but McCoy did not play a snap in the game.
If Peterson wants that type of experience, it's certainly possible. It just might not fulfill exactly what he's seeking, which is a chance to contribute. One can't quite contribute in such a fashion if he's spending almost the entire season on the sideline, as McCoy did in 2020.
"The love for the game. That's really the main thing that's driving me on top of wanting to win a championship," Peterson explained. "The love for the game. I'm going to be 36 years old. How many 36-year-old guys can say that they're playing in the NFL and are able to do it at a high level? That's why whole mindset. I want to look back and say 'you know what, not only did I play because I love the game and I was chasing a championship, but I was able to do it. I was physically able to go out there and perform at a high level.' When I'm done, I'll be able to look back and say 'you know what, I put my best foot forward and I ended on my terms.'"
Peterson could hang it up right now if he wanted to and he'd end up in Canton five years from now. He could frame it as going out on his own terms. But he believes he still has high-octane gas left in his tank, and he wants to burn that fuel for a purpose, not just to receive the last hundred or so carries of his lengthy career.
With plenty of running back options available via free agency and the draft, finding such a fit might not be as easy as it is ideal. But for a club in search of a veteran with a proven track record, he may end up being a fit. Peterson will prepare as if such an opportunity exists.