The Washington Football Team put an end to Adrian Peterson's two-year run with the club on Friday, releasing the seven-time Pro Bowl back prior to roster cuts. The veteran back was admittedly surprised by the club's decision and it was one that head coach Ron Rivera tossed and turned about, telling reporters on Friday that he woke up at 4:03 a.m. and pondered how he'd break the news to Peterson.
"For me it was personal," Rivera said following the announcement of Peterson's release. "It was very difficult. He was a tremendous professional. He thanked me and wished us luck. It epitomizes who he is as a person. I know he's a first-ballot Hall of Famer, so it's tough."
Peterson -- who was widely looked as the best running back in the NFL during his days with the Minnesota Vikings -- originally signed on with Washington in August of 2018 after a 2017 campaign split between the Saints and Cardinals. Over 31 games played during his tenure, the 35-year-old averaged 4.2 yards per carry. Last season, Peterson rushed for 898 yards and five touchdowns while catching 17 passes for 142 yards.
While productive, Rivera explained that Washington is looking to go young at the position, especially with third-round rookie Antonio Gibson impressing at training camp.
"It's not about what he didn't do, it's about what these other guys were doing for us and allows us to go in the direction we feel good about," Rivera said of the decision to let Peterson go. "The guy's got football left in him."
In the aftermath of his release, Peterson even acknowledged to NFL insider Josina Anderson that Gibson "is a hell of a talent" and the "system really fits him." From the fantasy realm, CBS Sports fantasy football writer Ben Gretch dubs Gibson a "must-draft player." Meanwhile, Bryce Love, who was selected in the fourth round of the 2019 NFL Draft, has also been recovering nicely from a torn ACL that kept him out his entire rookie season, opening the door for a potential breakout.
Peterson (14,216) currently sits at No. 5 on the NFL's all-time rushing yards list behind Emmitt Smith (18,355), Walter Payton (16,726), Frank Gore (15,347) and Barry Sanders (15,269). As things stand currently, he's showing no signs of walking away from the game, keeping the possibility open for him to climb even higher on this legendary list.
As for what may be next for Peterson in his NFL career, here are some of the top landing spots for the former league MVP.