The Washington Football Team released running back Adrian Peterson, the team announced Friday morning.
A leader on and off the field.
Thank you, AP! pic.twitter.com/ulQDfwZSvW
— Washington Football Team (@WashingtonNFL) September 4, 2020
The surprise move comes as NFL teams trim their rosters from 80 players to 53 by 4 p.m. Saturday. Rivera called Peterson early in the morning asking him to come to the practice facility, then delivered the news the team was moving on from the 35-year-old star, who appeared to be the favorite to start at running back after the release of Derrius Guice.
Instead, new head coach Ron Rivera will turn to younger running backs, including third-round pick Antonio Gibson and 2019 fourth-rounder Bryce Love. Veterans J.D. McKissic and Peyton Barber remain on the roster.
Offensive coordinator Scott Turner said Gibson has done a good job in training camp but was vague about his role Week 1 against the Philadelphia Eagles. Gibson played a hybrid running back/receiver role at Memphis, and Rivera compared his potential to Carolina’s Christian McCaffrey.
“This is a very talented, gifted young man that did a lot of different things,” Rivera said Thursday. “We’re trying to hone his skills to fit what we believe he can do. It’s been an interesting growth period. It’s been good.”
Peterson led Washington in rushing each of the last two seasons, totaling 1,940 yards and 12 touchdowns in 31 games. During training camp, he spoke of wanting to stay healthy and play five more years.
At the age of 35, even though he is being released today, RB Adrian Peterson still wants to continue playing, per source. So add one more experienced name to the list of available running backs.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 4, 2020
Peterson, a surefire Hall of Famer, reached multiple career milestones while in Washington. Last season, he moved into fifth place on the all-time rushing list (14,216 yards) and passed Walter Payton to rank fourth all-time with 111 rushing touchdowns.
WTOP’s Rob Woodfork and the Associated Press also contributed to this report.