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The Purple Heir Apparent: Jerick McKinnon

jerickmckinnonRotoviz touched on super athlete Jerick McKinnon a few times before the draft took place. We even suggested he could be a poor man’s Christine Michael, which is pretty high praise considering Michael was drafted in the first round of rookie drafts around this time last year even though everyone knew he wouldn’t see the field in 2013.

Since we all know how physically talented McKinnon proved he was during his Combine trip I’ll pass on running through all of his great measurables, but my ears perked up when I heard his named called by the Vikings at the very end of round three.

As soon as he was drafted McKinnon became the second best RB on Minnesota’s roster. Matt Asiata is the Vikings #2 RB on the depth chart currently, but despite his 30 carry, 51 yard, 3 TD game late last season his talent level is puny compared to McKinnon. His other competition, Joe Banyard has played for 3 different teams since 2012 and Domonique Williams is a rookie UDFA signing from Wagner College.

Adrian Peterson has been a fantasy stud since he came into the league and probably has a soft spot in the majority of our hearts. In 2011 the Vikings signed Peterson to a mammoth seven year contract at the rate of almost 14 million per season. Here’s a look at his contract1 as well as his games played by year. Peterson has actually been decently durable for a RB:

Screen Shot 2014-05-19 at 6.52.56 PM

Screen Shot 2014-05-19 at 6.57.48 PM

Since 2011 the value of RBs has changed completely. Free agent RBs in 2014 were lucky to see a deal worth 3 million per year. Add in the fact that Peterson just turned 29 and is staring down the dreaded 30 year old birthday, and his contract looks even more ridiculous. Peterson is set to be paid just under 12 million in 2014 and just under 13 million in 2015 with a bigger bump coming in 2016 at just below 15 million.

Peterson will be a Viking in 2014, but if the Vikings decide to shed his ridiculous contract in 2015 they would only cost themselves 2.4 million in dead money, which is pocket change compared to the 13 million they’d save by sending him packing. If Peterson makes it through 2015 and is cut in 2016 Minnesota wouldn’t lose a dime in dead cap space. I find it extremely hard to believe the Vikings would be willing to pay a 30 year old RB 11.75 million in today’s NFL let alone a 31 year old RB 12.75 million. If you can’t figure it out already, what I’m saying is Adrian Peterson likely won’t be a Viking in 2015 and if he is I’d bet even more he won’t be in 2016. One AFC GM sparked up a rumor shortly after the draft ended suggesting the same:

“My personal opinion,” said one AFC general manager, “is this (coming) season will be Peterson’s last with the Vikings. Despite the cap hit, they’ll make some sort of move to get him off the roster.”

While many may not realize it currently, which is a good thing for you in your rookie drafts coming up, the chances look small for AP to be in purple for much longer. Even better is that an extremely gifted athlete has an easy road to the starting role Peterson will soon be forced to vacate. Of course, McKinnon will have his hurdles ahead of him since he was a triple option QB in college, but if Minnesota (a team with many needs) used a 3rd round pick on him they clearly think highly of his prospects. McKinnon, who landed at #26 in our rookie ranks, could easily go from a dirt cheap rookie pick to a RB with a full time role in a young offense in the matter of a year. I’ll be making sure to obtain his services late in every rookie draft this year.

  1. from Over the Cap  (back)

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