5 free-agent running backs the Panthers should target in 2021

(Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports) Mark Ingram
(Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports) Mark Ingram /
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Carolina Panthers
(Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports) Adrian Peterson /

Adrian Peterson

  • 2020 team – Detroit Lions

It feels strange to be writing about Adrian Peterson in 2021. The veteran running back is s sure-fire Pro Football Hall of Famer when he eventually decides to hang up his cleats. But his desire to catch Emmitt Smith’s all-time rushing record means he isn’t going to give it up just yet.

Peterson might be a little long in the tooth in NFL terms where players at the position are concerned, but he still managed 604 rushing yards and seven touchdowns with the Detroit Lions in year 15 of his professional career last time out.

Asking someone like Peterson to be the lead back in any offense is a bit much at this juncture.

However, if the Carolina Panthers are looking for some assured production behind Christian McCaffrey, then they could do far worse than look in Peterson’s direction.

The four-time All-Pro and 2012 NFL MVP still has a strong passion for the game. Peterson’s addition to the locker room would be another big potential impact that shouldn’t be overlooked and considering his age, he’d be available on the cheap.

There would only be a bit-part role for Peterson on the Panthers if McCaffrey can finally rid himself of the injury problems that blighted his 2020 campaign. This would allow the player to remain fresh and make the most out of opportunities when called upon as he looks to gain the lofty 3,536 yards needed over the remainder of his career to break Smith’s record.