If you watched Thursday night's Vikings-Redskins game, you're... a fool. While RGIII's alma mater, Baylor, was able to run away from Adrian Peterson's college home, Oklahoma, the roles were reversed on the NFL turf. And everyone should have been watching a dominant performance by Stanford in their upset of Oregon... for the second straight year.
While the college game was better to watch last night, Peterson should be at the heart of another discussion.
The Minnesota Vikings are terrible. They have AP and... Jared Allen? They don't use Cordarelle Patterson for more than kick returns, they overpaid Greg Jennings, and their defense is aging in all the wrong places.
The light at the end of the tunnel is far, far away.
Which is why it's time for the Vikings to deal their franchise player.
Let's set the context for this idea with a little (painful) history. After four weeks in the 1989 season, Minnesota was involved in one of the biggest blockbuster trades in NFL history. They sent a king's ransom to Dallas for Herschel Walker, a bounty of picks that effectively led to the Cowboys being jump-started as a franchise.
In that deal, the Vikings traded away three 1st round picks, three 2nd round picks, one 3rd and one 6th with five players to Dallas for Walker, two 3rd round picks, a 5th and a 10th. There aren't ten rounds in the NFL Draft any more.
The players added through that trade included Emmitt Smith, Alvin Harper, and Darren Woodson, cornerstones of the beginning of Dallas' dynasty.
Those Cowboys already had a young receiver - Michael Irvin - and a franchise quarterback - Troy Aikman - on the roster. They were both 23, but the Cowboys knew they needed a larger, quicker overhaul to make it happen.
Some might say "there's no way you trade the best running back in the game" and "Walker doesn't compare," but both of those arguments lose weight when we, again, use history to add perspective.
In 1987, Walker led the NFL with 1,606 yards from scrimmage; that season was strike-shortened. Dallas was 3-13 in 1988, but Walker had another fantastic season. He ran for 1,514 yards and had another 505 receiving with seven touchdowns. In his first three seasons in the NFL, Walker had 5,199 total yards from scrimmage, and that's with the 1987 season being cut short to 12 games.
He was dominant.
Of course, Walker didn't have an NFL MVP award at home. And he hadn't run for 2,000 yards in a season, either. Peterson can claim both of those. But Walker was a pioneer of the dominant, dual-threat running back that we have seen in players like Marshall Faulk, Matt Forte, LeSean McCoy and Jamaal Charles.
Also, Walker was 27 years old when he was traded and was only just beginning his fourth NFL season. Peterson is 28 and is in his seventh NFL season.
If you did watch the Vikings last night, you undoubtedly saw a beast that has years left in his legs. There's a lot of good football left in AP, even with the knee injury on his resume.
Now let's fast forward to the current NFL.
The Cleveland Browns traded Trent Richardson to Indianapolis for a 1st round pick earlier this year. If Richardson, after one season, is worth one 1st round pick, could AP garner a bounty similar to what the Vikings paid to land Walker 24 years ago?
There are some teams that might feel they are in a position to go for broke and move multiple 1st round picks to bring in a game-changer like AP. Add to the annual sense of urgency for NFL teams the reality that there doesn't appear to be a dominant running back coming out of college in the next two drafts, and the options are overpay a free agent or overpay in a trade if you want to improve the position.
The ultimate irony would be Minnesota selling the idea to... Dallas. The Cowboys haven't been able to keep DeMarco Murray on the field consistently during his NFL career, and they have publically acknowledged that their window with Romo and Witten isn't going to stay open forever. With the volatile Dez Bryant and young Terrance Williams also in the mix at receiver, Dallas might be both desperate and crazy enough to consider making a blockbuster deal.
What about the Patriots? Tom Brady isn't getting any younger, and they refuse to commit to a single running back (as all fantasy owners of Stevan Ridley understand too well). A franchise that has shown little regard for where they select in the draft - indeed, they usually trade out of the first round to add picks anyway - what would keep them from mortgaging multiple picks to put another future Hall of Famer into their backfield?
Carolina has Cam Newton coming into his own and a young, dominant defense. They have tried - and failed - at the running back position in recent years. Adding Peterson into a division with a pathetic Bucs team, a struggling Falcons team and an aging Saints team could position Carolina to be a powerhouse for the next few years.
Those "aging Saints" might be in a position to add a centerpiece running back to their arsenal. Like Brady, Drew Brees isn't getting younger but they have Jimmy Graham as their only consistent target in the passing game. Staying in a dome might be a good idea for Peterson, and moving to the NFC South could boost his production to record levels.
Those are only four teams that might consider the cost of acquiring Peterson; there could be more.
With the Vikings appearing to be headed for another top ten pick in next year's draft, it might be time to mortgage their best player in an effort to add enough assets to make a legitimate difference. Trading Peterson wouldn't sit well with fans, but utilizing the picks received wisely could lead to a renaissance in Minnesota.