Can Peterson to Dallas Square the Walker Score?

27 Apr

If the phrase ‘blockbuster trade’ had not yet been coined, this deal was sure to get it minted fast. It was a real doozie.

The NFL had never seen a two-team swap quite like it, before or since.

About a quarter into the 1989 NFL season, the Minnesota Vikings and Dallas Cowboys reached agreement for what has remained the biggest exchange of players & picks in the League’s long history.


When the documents had cleared NFL scrutiny, Dallas would receive 5 players and 8 draft picks that included three, 1st and 2nd rounders. Vikings took 4 draft choices (two 3rd rounders) and one player who was considered the deal’s prize catch in star ball-carrier and 2-time All-Pro, Herschel Walker.

And the result?

Prevailing view has been that Dallas got the better end of the deal while Vikes, in the words of Marilyn, got the “fuzzy end of the lollipop (Some Like It Hot (’59)).”

That view stems from how Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and head coach Jimmy Johnson turned their wealth of draft selections into gold, key elements of a 90s Texas Renaissance and championship run of three Super Bowl wins in four seasons (’93-94, ‘96).


Minnesota on the other hand got a mere 2.5 years out of Walker and no trip back to the Super Bowl as they’d hoped in banking their future on the former Heisman winner and two-time All-Pro (DAL), believing him the final piece to their Super puzzle.

It should be noted the Vikings did get good value from one of their draft picks in wide receiver Jake Reed who would remain with Minnesota throughout the 90s (’91-02 / 6999y / 36td).

Why Herschel under-achieved in Minnesota was debated long & hard.

Some blame Vikings staffers for failing to properly tailor offensive scheme to suit their star, while others believe Herschel himself refused to adapt to game plans and blocking designs, stubbornly sticking to his powerful but straight-ahead run style. Still others claimed the highly touted star was simply over-rated as a pro.


My own memories of the closing act in Walker’s tenure were not pleasant as I witnessed a man, understandably frustrated at his lack of success in Minnesota while his former team blossomed, that seemed less motivated as the end neared.

Not much dispute on how Dallas amalgamated enough picks into success (trade players were marginal). The disagreement arises as to the degree of assistance Minnesota’s generousness provided to shaping Cowboys Super results.

Draftees Emmitt Smith, Darren Woodson and Alvin Harper were key players in Cowboys rise and a direct result of the choices afforded Dallas by the mega-deal. A problem arises when some extend believed benefits to include draft acquisitions more indirectly connected and further removed from the MIN deal.


That’s the history.

Today, Vikings and Cowboys seem well situated to forge yet another titanesque deal. The respective assets and needs are strikingly similar to 1989 but the roles reversed, cleats on the other feet, so to speak.

This time it’s Minnesota who is rebuilding and holds most the cards in this high stakes game of Texas hold ‘em. Adrian Peterson is still under contract to the Vikes who, if willing to part with their once-in-a-generation running back, could use the plethora of picks gotten in his transfer, the quantity necessary to land those draft gems (See; Dallas ‘89)).

As for Dallas, like Vikings in ‘89, they’re seemingly one man short in the motor pool in dire need of that top-flight carrier to ride to titletown, now that big yardage amasser DeMarco Murray has flown the coop (1845y / to PHI).


One thing’s for certain, and that’s that Jones will not give up scads of draft choices that the Vikes conceded to get Herschel, though, one could argue, this go round it might make more sense, given the 2012 MVP’s credentials.

But AP turned 30 in March (Herschel was 27), having been recently removed from the Commissioner’s exempt list and set to begin his 9th campaign. Sitting out most of the 2014 season (1g) when suspn’d in a criminal domestic child abuse (discipline) matter, it’s fair to characterize the upcoming 2015 NFL season as his eight.

And that legal matter gives Peterson some PR baggage Walker did not carry. But then rage-a-holic Greg Hardy, freed but not “cleared (“Hardy‘s” / P.King / 4.23), needs a U-Haul® to lug all his baggage and Mr. Jones was receptive to his story & hire, so there’s that.

In allowing Murray to depart, one could speculate that Jones did so because he hoped to have an ample replacement in Peterson to fill the sizable void left by DeMarco who literally carried Dallas to the post-season in 2015.


The respective salary caps, relevant contractual terms and personal preferences of the parties will control on the Peterson issue. They always do.

Jones is a strange bird these days, having gone from builder of champions to America’s most hawkish rental agent (AT&T). Former Dallas QB Babe Laufenberg has been quoted as saying that if Jerry seriously wants a player on roster, he’ll find a way to make it happen. And if he doesn’t, he won’t (See: Murray)).

How much, if at all, does Jones want the Palestine, Texas native to be in Cowboys garb? If yes he’s not alone as Minnesota owner Zygi Wilf should certainly want Adrian back in purple for a team starving of stars and a community set to welcome back its tarnished hero to start anew and ‘come in from the cold.’


Minnesota has the upper hand, Adrian’s baggage & all. They need not negotiate with urgency. Whereas, their Southwestern trading partners are in bit of a pickle. Oft-inured Tony Romo’s not getting any younger and with a QB market fast filling with collegiate single-wing tail-backs (flash QB), their window of opportunity is closing fast.

If I’m a Cowboys fan I’m telling the owner: ‘It’s time to roll the dice, make a deal and get ‘er done, Big Hombre.’ Twenty years for America‘s Team to sit at home during the biggest shindig on the planet is quite a dry spell, even as Cowboys, Inc. makes mucho moolah.

Sticking to steers (players & picks) and tabling other considerations, including unlikely conditions-attached, this is what it might take from Jones to get ‘All-Day’ in Big D: one 1st-rounder, two 2nds (a key), two mid-to-late rangers and two proven players, including a capable running back for the Vikings. That would fill the bill and go a ways in starting to square things on Vikings painful past.


If a Peterson deal gets done between these North – South stanchions of football, Dallas will distinguish the past while Minnesota will make comparison and hope history repeats. In any case, whether it’s back to the Land of 10,000 Lakes or starting fresh in the Lone Star State, Adrian Peterson will shine wherever he settles.

Steven Keys
NFL HunchLine
Photo credits: A.Peterson, wc.cca, J.Bielawa, 9.21.13; J.Jones, wc, suzismini, 8.30.08; H.Walker-Rep.Peterson, 5.5.04, wc, USGov, PE4Life; Vikings-wordmark, wc, 1982-03; Cowboys.helmet, wc, 5.16.08, DukeHa; A.Peterson, 1.28.12, wc, Arvee5.0; AT&T.Dallas, 9.23.12, wc, Mahanga; A.Peterson, wc, 10.24.10, M.Morbeck; NFL-Wikiproject.
Posted: 4.26.15 @ 11:52pm; edit 4.27 @ 1:56am, 12:36pm EST


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