The Adrian Peterson trade talk continues to center around the Dallas Cowboys, as the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported them as one of six potential landing spots should the Vikings choose to depart with their star running back.
But executive vice president Stephen Jones did his best to downplay the club’s interest in trading for veteran players during a radio interview on Tuesday. Jones, appearing on 105.3 The Fan, didn’t address Peterson specifically but said: “I don’t see us using any picks to trade for veteran ballplayers.”
That’s a telling statement coming from Jones.
The Cowboys are in the market for running backs after losing the league’s leading rusher, DeMarco Murray, to the Philadelphia Eagles. They have brought in several of the top running backs in this year’s draft, including projected first-round picks in Georgia’s Todd Gurley and Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon.
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The team also signed free agent running back Darren McFadden, and have returning backs in Joseph Randle, Lance Dunbar and Ryan Williams.
Peterson, though, is more of a known quantity than any of the other backs. He was the NFL’s MVP in 2012, and has rushed for more than 1,200 yards in six of his eight professional seasons. He played only one game last season, however, after being suspended by the NFL for a child-abuse incident. He has since been reinstated by the league.
So the Cowboys find themselves in an interesting position in how they handle this going forward. Should they go all-in for Peterson with the mindset he’s the piece to take them from contender to Super Bowl champion? Or should they hold steady and avoid paying a steep price for a veteran who very well could be on the decline?
Jones seemed to indicate the team’s position during the radio interview when asked if the Cowboys would trade for a running back instead of drafting one.
“I don’t see that happening,” Jones said. “I think draft picks are so important for us. That’s where your value is in this salary cap era. I see us using all of our picks and hopefully do it in a good, wise way. Hopefully when the draft is all said and done, we’ll have really improved our football team.”
Everything is subject to change, of course, and the rumors about Peterson to the Cowboys are likely to only gain steam with the draft nearing. The question is whether the Cowboys would trade a player for Peterson and if that would be enough to land him.
The Vikings are in dire need of cornerbacks and the Cowboys have an unhappy one in Orlando Scandrick, who is sitting out the team’s offseason program in a contract dispute.
Scandrick has been the team’s best defensive back the past two years but is due to earn $1.5 million next season, which is less than cornerbacks Brandon Carr ($8 million) and Morris Claiborne ($2.6).
The problem is the Cowboys also have a need a cornerback because an injured Claiborne may not be ready for the start of training camp and Carr could be forced to take a pay cut or be cut.
Even if the Cowboys take a cornerback early in the draft, they don’t have the luxury of parting ways with their best player at the position.
While Jones didn’t rule out eventually giving Scandrick a bump in pay, saying “we don’t like to get into until we either do something or don’t do something,” he made it clear he is unhappy with him being away from the offseason program.
“He’s under contract, but not unlike a lot of players, they’d like to have more,” Jones said. “Orlando is under contract. If something makes sense for us to add some years or do something then we’ll take a look at that, but we just re-did Orlando’s contract a couple years ago and he’s been a really good football player for us.
“He’s a leader on this team, and we certainly need him out here. In my mind, he should be out here right now, working out.”
Staff writer Clarence E. Hill contributed to this report.