On Friday morning the Washington Football Team announced that they were releasing veteran running back Adrian Peterson.

Peterson took the news like a pro, and the 35-year-old granted an interview to the team’s SVP of media after the news broke and explained that he understood the decision, but still was confident he’d be able to latch on with an NFL team and contribute this season, even at age 35.

Still, some fans might be wondering: What caused Washington to want to move on from Peterson?

The simple explanation is usually the best one, and in this case, that rings true: The team thought they had better production available, cheaper, elsewhere.

Washington has Bryce Love as a back on the roster, and also brought in Antonio Gibson with a third-round pick in this year’s draft. The Memphis standout played running back in high school, switched it up and played some slot receiver and RB in college, and seems to more nicely fit the role du jour in the NFL right now — the runner who can catch balls out of the backfield.

Ron Rivera built an offense around Christian McCaffrey in Carolina, and while Gibson isn’t McCaffrey, he can do a lot of the things that McCaffrey does.

If Gibson can even approximate that production, and provide the blocking they need — he’s well sized at 6-foot-2, 220 pounds and got good blocking grades coming out of school — then Peterson obviously becomes expendable, quickly.

Plus, there’s the money. (There’s always the money.) The 35-year-old Peterson was on a two-year, $5 million contract. By cutting him, the team takes on $750k in dead cap hit,  per Spotrac, and that’s it.

Meanwhile Gibson is on a very team-friendly four-year deal worth a hair under $5 million, and will just pay him a base salary this year of $600k.

The team gives themselves some financial flexibility to improve other areas of the roster, they get younger at the RB position, and they can turn over the reins to a young back who will help Ron Rivera build the offense he wants to build.


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