Yesterday afternoon, a judge ended the NFL’s suspension on Vikings' running back Adrian Peterson.
He can now return to the team’s facilities or begin searching for a new home.
Given the shouting match his agent had with Vikings officials at the NFL Combine, the latter appears to be the preferred course of action.
We will rehash the moral turpitudes of this decision and how it truncates the power of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell (deservedly or not) at some point.
But today, let's focus on Peterson’s future and where it may take him. He has tremendous strength and maintains speed that few in the NFL can match.
With these suspensions and his proven resiliency, he should have a few more peak years in his career. And, the 2012 MVP will have many suitors should he decide to cut ties with the Vikings.
Here’s a list of teams that have pretty solid odds of securing the coveted player:
New York Jets
Both teams in Gotham need better runners. However, the Jets' need is more dire given their quarterback instability and first-year head coach Todd Bowles, who is a defense specialist.
Should they choose a new QB at number six in the draft — especially if it’s Marcus Mariota — he’ll need time to acclimate, and running the ball will alleviate tremendous amounts of pressure.
The Jets still play second fiddle to Big Blue in the market, so a signing like this would provide some much-needed star power and add a weapon to a traditionally strong running game in a division laden with good defense.
They also have the cap space to make a big signing or even take the existing contract if a trade is made.
Since the heyday of Peyton Manning, the Colts have sought a marquee running back to complement their vertical attack.
Edgerrin James was the last back who properly filled that role. In their matchup against current champion, New England, the lack of running game to control the clock and force the Patriots to honor the play-action has really hamstrung the Colts.
Peterson would get to play indoors on a fast track surrounded by elite talent. He'd be on a team that needs his services, has the cap space to sign him and can argue he’s the missing piece to not just a Super Bowl run, but a dynasty.
The Falcons are coming off a disastrous year where they couldn’t get the offensive balance they needed and the defense failed late in games.
With new head coach Dan Quinn, the defensive emphasis should return, but the offense remains in limbo. The team released rusher Stephen Jackson and wideout Harry Douglas to clear up cap space.
With the new stadium on the horizon, having a consistent back, like AP, to complement Matt Ryan and Julio Jones would do a lot to restore the swagger of the Dirty Birds.
What’s the best way to get back at a team you think did you dirty while they employed you? Why, join a division rival, of course.
The Vikings would really feel the burn if AP went to Ford Field to run wheel routes and bubble screens from Matthew Stafford’s huddle.
Trying to prepare for him and Megatron, along with underrated TE Brandon Pettigrew would be a matchup nightmare for defenses.
While the Lions now lack a major running threat after releasing Reggie Bush, their limited cap space seems focused on a mega-deal for Ndamukong Suh, someone Detroit would absolutely hate to lose.
Like the Colts, the Cards are a fast-track team with a great passing attack in need of some support from the ground game.
Any semblance of a proficient running attack may have prevented their December slide after Carson Palmer went down with an injury. The team would become nearly unstoppable if they get AP.
Alas, they would need to free up some cap space as four starters, including Palmer and all-universe WR Larry Fitzgerald, command $10 million or more in cap space.
Early indications suggest this is Peterson’s preferred team for next year.
He maintains offseason residency in the Dallas area (which is the whole root of this controversy), the team has tremendous weapons and AP would share the burden.
Unfortunately, the Cowboys also have to re-sign young studs, like DeMarco Murray and Dez Bryant, who performed so well last year.
Look for another restructuring of Tony Romo’s massive contract, which gives him $17 million in base salary plus bonuses that add to a cap hit over $27 million.
I know Jerry Jones has money and is a reputed wild card, but he’d be crazier than an armadillo trying to get a seat at IHOP on Sunday morning if he thinks he can make all this work and still pay Romo all that money.