Alexander Shun | @alexpshun
Digital Content Manager | KFAN.com
When the New York Giants released running back Rashad Jennings earlier this week, a small portion of Minnesota Vikings fans across the Twittersphere suggested the team should take a look at the eight-year pro as a potential replacement to current running back Adrian Peterson.
I mean absolutely no disrespect to Jennings, but I think that, although the Vikings could become uncertain of their running back committee should they decide that Peterson's time in the purple and gold is complete, they should keep clear of Jennings. And for good reasons too.
Let's start with the obvious...
Age Is Not On Jennings' Side
Everyone knows that the decline for running backs in the NFL tends to begin after the player crosses the threshold into their 30's. For Jennings, that threshold has been crossed.
Jennings is 31-years old and will be 32 next month; not exactly the ideal age for an NFL running back.
To make the case that Peterson should be cut due to his age, yet overlook the age factor to sign a back like Jennings, would not only be hypocritical but also more of a lateral move.
Jennings age also prevents Minnesota from making him a long-term option. Surely the Vikings are ready to look for their next franchise running back, not a veteran back from which they will get one, maybe two, (potentially) productive seasons with before retirement.
What To Do With Jerick McKinnon...
Jerick McKinnon has been the smaller, speed back that has taken over the backfield when Peterson has been out with injuries and, until last season, he was reasonably successful.
The Georgia Tech product put up solid numbers his rookie season, finishing with 113 carries for 538 yards (4.8 YPC) and 27 catches for 135 yards then followed up that season by rushing just 52 times for 271 yards (5.2 YPC) and two touchdowns while adding 21 catches for 173 yards and a touchdown in 2015. And no Viking running backs performed well last season behind a poor offensive line so we won't even look at that.
McKinnon has shown flashes at times of being a very good running back. Not necessarily a franchise running back that can carry the ball 20-30 times a game, but a very good 'change-of-pace' back that would be a solid complementary back. Unfortunately, Jennings is not the back that McKinnon should be paired with.
Entering next season, McKinnon will be playing on the last year of his rookie contract and will be looking to prove that he has what it takes to be a starting running back in this league. If the Vikings are still uncertain as to whether the three-year pro has what it takes, then they should give him the backfield to prove it rather than bring in another veteran back that he'll split carries with.
Let's Be Honest, Jennings Isn't That Good For What He Would Cost
In the last three years with the Giants, Jennings was earning over $2 million a year. Compared to the $18 million that Peterson is owed, sure, that seems manageable and more welcoming, but let's look at what the $2 million would get you.
Jennings has never rushed for 1,000 yards in a season and would be far less likely to do it now given his age and the overall poor state of the Vikings offensive line. His best overall season came in 2015 when he compiled 863 yards and three touchdowns on the ground and added 296 yards and one touchdown receiving, however he did also have three fumbles that season, two of which were lost.
I would liken Jennings to a slightly bigger and more powerful McKinnon. Jennings has the ability to run between the tackles and run through guys while McKinnon will use his speed and agility to get to the edge and make guys miss, or at least he'll try. Jennings can do the same, at times, but he does that more as a pass-catcher out of the backfield.
I like Jennings a lot and, a few years ago, he was a very good running back that, like McKinnon, would be a good complementary back, but not one to control a backfield.
Would Jennings be an upgrade over Peterson? Probably.
Would Jennings be an upgrade over McKinnon? Probably not.
The thought is nice but if I'm the Minnesota Vikings, I look elsewhere to solve my running back problem.