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Bucs should stay away from Adrian Peterson

OT_359854_WALL_Bucs_14 (10/25/2012  Minneapolis) Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive end Michael Bennett (71) wraps up Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson (28) on a run during the fourth quarter. SECOND HALF ACTION: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers play the Minnesota Vikings at Mall of America Field in Minneapolis on Thursday. [DANIEL WALLACE, Times]
OT_359854_WALL_Bucs_14 (10/25/2012 Minneapolis) Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive end Michael Bennett (71) wraps up Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson (28) on a run during the fourth quarter. SECOND HALF ACTION: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers play the Minnesota Vikings at Mall of America Field in Minneapolis on Thursday. [DANIEL WALLACE, Times]
Published Mar. 3, 2017

The Bucs should stay away from Adrian Peterson.

And receiver DeSean Jackson.

Maybe if they were five years younger.

Same goes for Jamaal Charles.

Even if Doug Martin is eventually given the boot.

I would hope the Bucs won't make a pass at Peterson. I bet they don't.

Bucs coach Dirk Koetter and GM Jason Licht should be up to that task. They'd better be.

I'd rather they reach for Dalvin Cook.

Go for Peterson and it's a sure sign that the franchise has deluded itself into thinking it's truly close.

The Bucs made a nice little run last season when they were playing well. The defense came together, which was great.

Uh, they're not close.

They're not one player away. Nor were they one player away last year, when they took a kicker in the second round.

This isn't a team with everything but a lead running back.

This remains a team with a lot of needs.

A better offensive line.

More help for Gerald McCoy.

A safety.

A lot of needs.

Peterson, as great as he has been in the past, turns 32 next month and has 1.3 million miles on his tires.

That happens a lot when running backs approach or pass 30 years old.

Diminishing returns.

I'd rather move up and draft Cook then go after Peterson.

I wouldn't reach that high for Cook, but I'd reach.

Personally, I'd rather sign running backs later and focus on other needs.

Ezekiel Elliott might have turned that idea on its end. He was that good for Dallas. But he was running behind the best offensive line in football. It was the perfect situation.

I'd rather have a great line and shuttle in three or four backs than an average line trying to make holes for 30-year-old runners who can't quite hit the holes anymore.

Yes, there is Elliott, who led the league in rushing.

But the NFL's second-leading rusher in 2016 was Chicago rookie Jordan Howard, who was a fifth-round draft pick.

Rookie Rob Kelley was Washington's leading rusher and he wasn't even drafted.

You see where I'm going with this.

There are runners everywhere.

I'm going away from Adrian Peterson.

Yes, I could make one argument for Peterson in the name of a star runner taking strain off Jameis Winston, who is carrying too much of a load.

But can I see Koetter wanting that kind of offense?

Peterson doesn't fit.

The Bucs aren't quite in rebuilding mode. They're trying to add enough to make a contender.

But they're far enough away that they don't need to be spending dough on 30-year-old running backs. They just don't.

Koetter and Licht must know that.

Draft another pass rusher. Draft a safety. Draft the fastest guy on your team for wide receiver. I mean, later on. Keep developing.

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Don't be deluded. You're not that close.

Stay away from Adrian Peterson.

Contact Martin Fennelly at mfennelly@tampabay.com or (813) 731-8029. Follow @mjfennelly.

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