From AP to AARP

Story by: Chris Davis

On Tuesday multiple reports surfaced stating that running backs Adrian Peterson and Jamal Charles were being released from their respective teams.

Following the release of the former All-Pro backs, many fans got hype over the potential idea of one of these players joining their teams to help put them over the top.

I mean imagine Adrian Peterson in a backfield with Aaron Rodgers under center with Greg Jennings out wide and Jermichael Finley at tight end—I mean that’s a cake walk through the NFC.

If this was 2011, but it’s not, its 2017.

And I’m sad to inform those of you that are still entrenched in the past that the days of these two wreaking havoc on opposing front sevens and keeping defensive coordinators up at night is over—unless you’re playing Madden 2014 on all-pro mode.

Look, the fact of the matter is injuries plus attrition, once players creep upon age 30, is part of the reason that the life expectancy of running backs is the smallest of any skills position in professional football.

Adrian Peterson is 32, last season he rushed 37 times on 72 yards for 1.9 yards per carry. Yes the offensive line is awful, but his inability to jump cut and shoot the gap are the main reasons for his deterioration on the field.  And in week two of the 2016-17 season he suffered a torn meniscus which was his second knee injury of his career after suffering a torn ACL in 2011.

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As for Jamal Charles he’s slightly younger, however he has endured a steep decline due to his plethora of knee injuries. Charles has carried the ball just 83 times in the last two seasons after carrying the ball 200-plus times the previous three.

Charles has had four knee injuries since 2011, including a torn ACL which contributed to him losing his starting job to Spencer Ware this past season, ultimately leaving the back expendable to the Kansas City Chiefs upon his release.  

I understand that some diehard fans may be upset, but don’t shoot the messenger, these are just facts based on a history of short shelf lives for the running back position.

For example:

Shaun Alexander

Alexander played eight seasons, rushing 2,187 times for 9,453 yards while hitting the career century mark in touchdowns with 100. But he began his decline after his 2005 MVP season at age 28 that saw him rush 370 times for 1,880 yards and 28 touchdowns.

After signing a contract worth $62 million in the offseason with the Seahawks, he broke his foot in week 3, then he fractured his wrist and knee the following season, resulting in the team cutting ties with the former MVP in 2008, just two years later.

In Alexander’s last three seasons he carried the ball 470 times for 1,636 yards and 11 touchdowns—far fewer yards than his MVP season or even the season before where he rushed for 1,696 yards.

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Other running backs who fall into the “that ship has sailed” category are as follows:

Edgerrin James, Jamal Lewis, LaDainian Tomlinson and Steven Jackson, just to name a few. All of whom ended their careers with a season resulting in fewer than 250 carries and 1,000 yards after any major injury past 30.  

Now I’m not saying Peterson or Charles couldn’t be effective third down or situational backs for a contender, but the days of being the All-Pro work horse running back are over and done. If these two can go to a team for a great value brand price and they can accept a supporting role, then they can possibly extend their careers for a couple years.

Featured image for this post credited to: Forbes 

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