The NFL free-agent market can be kind to some players and cruel to others. So far, not so good for two future Hall of Famers in Adrian Peterson and Darrelle Revis.
And I'm not surprised.
Besides their outstanding careers as seven-time Pro Bowlers, Peterson and Revis share severaltraits that don't bode well for big paydays this year. Both will be 32 when the 2017 season begins. Both are accustomed to top-market salaries. Their on-field performances were lackluster or worse last season. They've battled injuries in recent years. Off-field incidents have tarnished their images.
Now Peterson and Revismight be joined on the market by another high-profile, controversial former star.Marshawn Lynchis putting out trial balloons that he may be interested in coming out of retirement … but only if the soon to be 31-year-old can play for his hometown Oakland Raiders.
My advice to teams in regard to this threesome: Let some other team sign them.
During my general managerand team president years, I would readily re-sign our older veteran players because we knew them and their ability (and durability) first-hand. But in dealing with free agents or trade prospects from other teams, I always preferred to sign or trade for players coming out of their rookie deals on the theory that they were ascending players in their mid-20s as opposed to older vets who were generally descending talent-wise.
Not to be age discriminatory, but the fact is that 30-plus-year-old players have a much greater tendency to get hurt and be less productive. Adding off-field concerns into the mix would make such players off limits for me.
When I did go against my age philosophy, it generally wason quarterbacks and kickers, two positions at which seasoned players can excel with arelatively healthy background.
Jim McMahon, Randall Cunningham and Warren Moon were three 30-plus-year-old quarterbacks we brought to Minnesota in the 1990s. Only McMahon had previous injury issues, but he played well in his one season with us and led the team to the playoffs. Moon and Cunningham also were playoff QBs during their Vikings stints. (Cunningham at 35 was the NFL MVP in our 15-1 season in 1998.) Gary Anderson was among the older kickers we brought to both the Vikings and Titans during the lateryears of his career.
But for Peterson, Revis and Lynch, each brings potential complications to a team.
Peterson has played in just 20 games over the past three years, and his 2016 season was a disaster — 37 carries for 72 yards and no touchdowns as he fought through knee and groin injuries. In Peterson’s defense, his limited play camebehind an injury-depleted offensive line.
Only four players in NFL history have rushed for over 1,000 yards at age 32: Emmitt Smith, Walter Payton, John Riggins and, last year, Frank Gore. None hadan injury history like that of Peterson.
Then there is Peterson's often obtuse and delusional attitude. Last year he complained about the boredom and grind (as he called it) of going through the Vikings’ offseason program and training camp. He must have forgotten that, in the new CBA, the offseason program was severely curtailed along withwith the demise of two-a-day practices and a cutback in fully-padded practices at camp.
And let's not forget Peterson'schild abuse case that eliminated his 2014 season and ultimately cost him over $4 million in salary for his six-game suspension after he pleaded no contest to the charges. NFL teams have not forgotten,and they are not anxious for the potential PR pushback from fans, sponsors and media if they sign him.
As for Revis, he has to convince teams that his 2016 season was an anomaly, and that he's not an off-field risk.
Revis performed poorlylast season, especially considering his inflated $14 million-per-year contract with the Jets. He did not get in proper condition before the season (which he blamed on offseason wrist surgery) and dealt with hamstring problems. He was but a shadow of Revis Island, the days in which hewas the NFL's best cornerand a four-time All-Pro.
Some believeRevis could — and should — move to safety with his next team. But who wants to meet his expected salary demands amid a position change?
Perhaps the Patriots would bring him back since he played well in his one season with New England, the Super Bowl title year in 2014. But Revis would have to accept a massive pay cut. He already is guaranteed $6 million this season from the Jets, so anything less than that means he's essentially playing for free.
The wee-hours street fight in Pittsburgh last month significantly damaged Revis’ reputation. The charges were dismissed when his friend took responsibility for throwing the punches, but as a GM, I would not look kindly on the fact that he put himself in a position to get jammed up.
It would lead me to ask the question: How badly does this guy really want to play if he's involved in such antics with free agency on the horizon? My conclusion would be he either has made so much money that he's not worried about tainting his image, or he's incredibly stupid for allowing himself to be put in such a predicament.
At least Peterson and Revis were on NFL teams last year. The last time we saw Lynch in an NFL game was when he rushed six times for 20 yards in Seattle's playoff loss to Carolina in the 2015 postseason. He had only seven starts and 417 rushing yards that season as he dealt with mid-season sports hernia surgery — hardly the "Beast Mode" we’re accustomed to seeing.
Lynch is a five-time Pro Bowler, but no GM is excited to sign (much less trade for) a player who has been retired for a full year and whose last season was lousy and injury-riddled. And, again, there are personal issues with Lynch, including questions about how difficult he is for coaches and his 2012 DUI arrest, which was settled as a reckless driving charge. There’s also his infamous non-cooperation with the media that has cost him plenty via NFL fines.
If any of these three players are signed, it will have to be on a one- or two-year contract with a lower base salaryand heavilyincentive-laden; the type of deal that will beresisted by the player and his agent.
I'd pass on all three, but as the saying goes, all it takes is one team out of 32 to believe.
So expect at least Peterson and Revis to be playing somewhere in 2017.
Jeff Diamond is the former president of the Titans and the former vice president/general manager of the Vikings. He was selected NFL Executive of the Year in 1998. Diamond is currently a business and sports consultant who also does broadcast and online media work. He is the former chairman and CEO of The Ingram Group. Follow Jeff on Twitter: @jeffdiamondNFL.