Adrian Peterson will remain with the Washington Redskins after the team activated their 2020 contract option to retain the running back.

Washington had until February 25 to exercise their club option, which ensures them of Peterson's services for next season on a $2.25million salary and keeps him out of free agency.

Peterson will carry a cap hit of $3.1m and his dead cap figure would have been just $750,000, but his importance to the Redskins was underlined by their move to keep him, which was announced on Wednesday.

A month ahead of his 35th birthday, Peterson has kickstarted his career with the Redskins, starting 31 of their 32 games in the last two seasons, rushing for 1,940 yards and 12 touchdowns.

The seven-time Pro Bowler has added 37 catches, 350 yards and a further score through the air and will remain with the rebuilding team, who have second-year pro Dwayne Haskins at quarterback.

Ron Rivera, the team's new head coach, hailed Peterson's professionalism as he sets about improving on a disappointing 3-13 season.

"Adrian Peterson is the epitome of what it means to be a pro in this league," said Rivera, whose team hold the second overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.

"Adrian's leadership and passion towards the game of football will set an example of what is expected of the players in this program moving forward."

Peterson enters his 13th NFL season fifth all-time in rushing yards with 14,216, a total which is 1,054 behind Barry Sanders, and fourth in career rushing touchdowns having scored 111.

Tuesday marked the end of an incredible decade for the NFL, which will crown the champion of its 100th season in February at the end of a campaign that has seen the man who dominated the past 10 years show signs of fallibility.

The 2010s largely belonged to a sixth-round pick from the University of Michigan who turned the New England Patriots into the greatest NFL dynasty.

However, there were plenty of others who helped define a fascinating period and a plethora of exciting talents queueing up to try to ensure it is they who stand out when the world looks back on the 2020s.

Here we reflect on 10 players who made the most lasting impact on the 2010s, and assess the players most likely to have the same influence on the 2020s.


2010s

Tom Brady

Five seasons into his NFL career, Brady had already secured a remarkable legacy, as a sixth-rounder who rose from Drew Bledsoe's injury replacement to a quarterback who guided the Patriots to their first three Super Bowl titles.

He led what many consider to be best offense ever in 2007 when the Patriots went 16-0, however, when the story of the greatest quarterback in NFL history is told, his and New England's second act will be the most compelling chapter.

The 2010s proved a decade in which Brady consistently and spectacularly defied Father Time. After a heart-breaking Super Bowl XLVI defeat to the New York Giants at the end of the 2011 season, a 37-year-old Brady authored a Super Bowl MVP performance three seasons later as the Patriots won their fourth title by defeating the Seattle Seahawks. 

His stunning response to a four-game 2016 suspension for his role in the Deflategate saga was a dominant 15-game stretch in which the Patriots lost only once and completed the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history in a 34-28 defeat of the Atlanta Falcons.

Brady followed that with an MVP campaign in 2017 that may unfairly be forgotten by many due to New England's 41-33 defeat to the Philadelphia Eagles in which he threw for 505 passing yards, breaking his record from the previous year.

Super Bowl LIII was won largely on the back of the Patriots defense and the 2019 season has provided further evidence the 42-year-old is finally declining. No player can outrun Father Time, but Brady has redefined what is possible for ageing quarterbacks.
 

Peyton Manning

Manning's career appeared to be nearing its end at the start of the decade. A playoff defeat to the New York Jets marked his final appearance for the Indianapolis Colts as neck surgery ruled him out of the 2011 season and he was released in March 2012.

However, Manning landed in the perfect environment to prove he was still among the elite. His Denver Broncos spell was historic as he helmed an explosive offense that reached its apex in 2013, Manning delivering arguably the greatest season ever for a quarterback.

He set single-season records for passing yardage (5,477) and touchdowns (55) that have yet to be broken. However, after a 43-8 Super Bowl thrashing at the hands of the Seattle Seahawks, Manning would have to wait until the 2015 campaign – during which he suffered the ignominy of being benched for Brock Osweiler – to win his second ring.

Manning regained the starting job and, despite his clearly declining abilities, won Super Bowl 50 with significant help from the Denver defense. It may not have been in the fashion many expected but, four years after his career was threatened by injury, Manning was able to go out on his own terms.

Rob Gronkowski

The Patriots' second spell of superiority owed much to their decision to draft a tight end out of Arizona with durability concerns in the second round of the 2010 draft.

New England's addition of Gronkowski paid instant dividends. He caught 10 touchdowns in his rookie season and developed into the league's ultimate red-zone weapon.

With four 1,000-yard seasons and five years with double-digit touchdowns – including a 17-score campaign in 2011 – Gronk's blend of athleticism, brute force and blocking ability saw him become the best tight end of his generation and the focal point of the New England offense.

Colin Kaepernick

Even with the dominance enjoyed by the likes of Brady, Manning and Gronkowski, no player from the past decade has transcended the sport more than Kaepernick.

A supremely athletic, gangly, long-striding dual-threat dynamo, Kaepernick exploded onto the scene in 2012, setting the record for rushing yards by a quarterback in a playoff game with 181 against the Green Bay Packers as he led the San Francisco 49ers to Super Bowl XLVII, coming within a few yards of victory in an agonising 34-31 loss to the Baltimore Ravens.

But, for all he did on the big stage, it was his actions during a preseason game that had the greatest impact on the sport, Kaepernick's life, and wider society.

His decision first to sit and then to kneel during the national anthem in 2016 to protest police brutality and racial injustice sparked both admiration and condemnation and led to a plethora of players replicating him. Though he gained plenty of supporters and attention for his cause, the movement he started cost Kaepernick his NFL career.

He has not been signed since parting with the Niners in 2017 and filed a since-settled grievance against the league, accusing the 32 franchises of colluding to keep him out of a job.

An NFL-organised workout last month fell apart at the last minute but the large crowd that attended a hastily arranged session on a high-school field the same day was indicative of his massive societal influence. That he is still unemployed remains the greatest stain on the reputation of a league obsessed with image.

Aaron Donald

In years gone by, a dominant edge rusher was often seen as the final piece of the puzzle. Now, teams are just as committed to unearthing the next Donald as they are to finding difference-making outside pass rushers.

Donald has transformed the value of interior defensive lineman by rapidly blossoming into arguably the NFL's best player. His quickness, power, intelligent hand usage and versatility have made him near-impossible to block. He can play every position on the defensive line and is devastatingly effective from each spot.

A two-time Defensive Player of the Year, Donald had 20.5 sacks in 2018 and still managed 12.5 sacks in 2019, a season viewed as a disappointment. Donald is already close to a certainty for the Hall of Fame and may well go down as the finest defensive player of his generation.

J.J. Watt

Five first-team All-Pro selections, five double-digit sack seasons and three Defensive Player of the Year awards, the most incredible aspect of Watt's career is that injuries may have prevented the NFL from witnessing his true ceiling.

Watt has been robbed of much of his prime years, only completing a full regular season once since 2015, yet his CV, which includes two 20.5-sack campaigns, is likely already good enough for the Hall of Fame. 

Firmly in the MVP discussion in 2014, Watt was the face of defensive football for much of the decade but, as the 2010s end, there is danger he will come to be partly defined by an inability to stay on the field at a time when the Texans have been most competitive. Thankfully, at 30, he still has the time and the talent to make sure that is not the case.

Adrian Peterson

Only one non-quarterback won the MVP award in the decade, and that came in 2012 when Peterson produced one of the best running back seasons in history.

Peterson rushed for 2,097 yards and 12 touchdowns, averaging an astonishing 131.1 yards per game on the ground. Off-field controversy interrupted his career and, though he enjoyed a renaissance in 2015 with a 1,485-yard campaign, he has never recaptured his unbelievable best. 

He has, however, succeeded in remaining effective enough to stretch his career well into this thirties and achieved his long-held ambition of passing Walter Payton on the all-time touchdowns list with his 111th score.

Drew Brees

While Manning and Brady took the majority of the acclaim and, in the latter's case, the titles in the 2010s, Brees has enjoyed consistency unmatched by most quarterbacks and racked up a plethora of records.

Brees led the league in passing yards five times in the decade and broke Brett Favre's all-time pass completions and passing yardage records in a 2018 season where his New Orleans Saints were a controversial non-called pass interference penalty away from the Super Bowl.

Week 15 of the 2019 season saw him break Manning's record for career passing touchdowns with his 540th. His arm strength may have declined but, Brees is still poised to enter his third decade in the league upholding the remarkable standard he has met since arriving in New Orleans.

Odell Beckham Jr.

The man who produced perhaps the defining play of the decade, Beckham has not quite hit the heights he once promised.

However, his scarcely believable one-handed catch against the Dallas Cowboys on November 23, 2014, is one of the NFL's indelible images. Falling backwards as Brandon Carr attempted to drag him down, Beckham arched his back and plucked the ball out of the air with his fingertips before tumbling into the endzone.

Whether through remarkable catches, arguments with coaches or an on-off relationship with a kicking net, Beckham has made the headlines throughout the decade and will surely continue to do so in the 2020s.

Antonio Brown

Brown's status as one of the players of the decade was already secured prior to his tumultuous 2019.

He made the unlikely journey from Pittsburgh Steelers sixth-round pick to a premier NFL receiver. Boasting incredible speed, agility and ability to make spectacular contested catches in spite of his smaller stature, Brown racked up four seasons of at least 1,400 receiving yards, including a 1,698-yard year in 2014. 

Yet for all his on-field exploits, Brown may well end up being most remembered for a 2019 offseason in which he forced an exit from the Steelers, left the Oakland Raiders without playing a snap after a series of controversies and was then cut by the New England Patriots after allegations of sexual assault. Despite an outstanding on-field career, Brown ends the 2010s with an asterisk against his name. 

2020s

Patrick Mahomes

No quarterback has taken the league by storm in their first season as a starter in the manner that Mahomes did in 2018.

Mahomes threw for over 5,000 yards and 50 touchdowns as the Kansas City Chiefs just missed out on the Super Bowl, defying belief with his ability to make plays on the move from a variety of arm angles.

After returning from a knee injury, Mahomes looks back to his best in 2019 and, with one of the best offensive minds in the league as his head coach in Andy Reid, he is primed to secure his place as the NFL's pre-eminent gunslinger in the 2020s.

Lamar Jackson

While Mahomes may be the most spectacular thrower to grace the NFL, Jackson is well on his way to cementing a reputation as the best running quarterback of all time.

Jackson and the Ravens have dominated the NFL in 2019 with a near-unstoppable offense. Defenses have found it almost impossible to decipher whether he is going to throw or run, with defenders frequently embarrassed by his elusiveness when he does the latter.

The only quarterback to throw for 3,000 yards and rush for 1,000 in a season, Jackson has already surpassed the achievements of Atlanta Falcons legend Michael Vick. He broke Vick's single-season quarterback rushing record by racking up 1,206 yards in 2019.

The final campaign of the 2010s could end with Jackson lifting the Lombardi Trophy. If he continues on this trajectory, the 2020s will see him become the greatest dual-threat quarterback of all time.

Trevor Lawrence

A pre-ordained NFL superstar since his high school days, the Clemson phenom has lived up to the massive hype in college and is effectively a lock to be the first overall pick in the 2021 draft.

Composed, mobile and possessing a cannon for an arm, several NFL teams in need of a quarterback will likely already be considering tanking 2020 to have a shot at landing Lawrence.

Regardless of whether he joins the league's elite or spectacularly fails, how Lawrence performs at the highest level is certain to be one of the most compelling storylines of the 2020s.

Kyler Murray 

The Arizona Cardinals took a significant risk in giving up on Josh Rosen to select a quarterback for the second successive year and pick Murray first overall.

Despite another losing season for Arizona in 2019, Murray's development as a rookie should provide great encouragement for the Cardinals, whose fans were treated to a series of dazzling displays from the former two-sport star, who was drafted ninth overall by MLB's Oakland Athletics in 2018.

Murray's decision to eschew baseball for the NFL was the most intensely debated issue of last year's draft. However, a year into his career, the dual-threat star has gone a long way to silencing the doubters and more two-sport athletes will follow his lead if he continues to excel.

Saquon Barkley

The second overall pick of the New York Giants in the 2018 draft, Barkley's career will, for many, settle the argument over the value of selecting a running back that high.

With a remarkable 2018 followed by an injury-affected 2019, it is the 2020s that will see Barkley provide the answer to whether it is worth using premier draft capital on a tailback in a league dominated by the passing game.

Those with a passion for analytics have largely already decided it is not. However, Barkley – regarded as the best running back prospect since Barry Sanders – has the talent to make a spectacular impact on the ground and in the passing game and prove them wrong.

George Kittle

Already cemented as the successor to Gronkowski as the NFL's premier tight end, Kittle is a bona-fide superstar with everything in his armoury to compile a Hall of Fame CV in the 2020s.

Kittle broke the record for single-season receiving yardage by a tight end in 2018 and in 2019 has proven himself the most valuable player for a San Francisco 49ers team two wins from Super Bowl LIV.

A freakish athlete and monstrous blocker whose sheer refusal to be tackled has seen him become the top yards-after-catch threat, Kittle produced one of the defining NFL images of the 2019 season as he carried three New Orleans Saints defenders with him on the game-clinching play of a Superdome shootout. Defenders across the league can expect to regularly receive the same treatment in the new decade.

Michael Thomas

The most astonishing aspect of Thomas breaking Marvin Harrison's record for receptions in a single-season is that the Saints star did so while still only 26.

As the focal point of arguably the NFL's most consistently potent offense, the sky is truly the limit for Thomas, who finished his record-breaking 2019 with 149 catches for 1,725 yards. 

He did so despite being subject to extremely tight coverage on seemingly every snap. Thomas rarely has the benefit of separation, but the 2020s could be the decade in which he separates himself from his contemporaries and becomes an all-time great receiver.

The Bosa brothers

There is a history of success between siblings in the NFL, and Joey and Nick Bosa are well on their way in joining Peyton and Eli Manning and J.J. Watt and T.J. Watt as two of the best brothers to play in the league.

Joey, selected third overall in 2016, has 40 sacks through four seasons for the Los Angeles Chargers, establishing himself as a dominant pass rusher, and Nick needed only one year to join him.

In his maiden season with the 49ers after being picked second overall, the younger Bosa racked up 80 quarterback pressures, the most ever by a rookie, according to analytics website Pro Football Focus.

He is among the favourites to win Defensive Player of the Year and, providing they avoid injury, the two best edge rushers in the 2020s may well be from the same family.

Jamal Adams

Though much of the focus for those of a Jets persuasion is on the growth of Sam Darnold, Adams is just as crucial to their hopes of crawling out of the doldrums.

The heart and soul of New York's defense, Adams is a ferocious, hard-hitting safety who could quickly vault to superstar status should the Jets become one of the AFC's best.

Reportedly close to being traded to the Dallas Cowboys during the 2019 season, Adams is in the perfect market to become one of the faces of the league if Gang Green can wrest AFC East superiority from Brady's Patriots.

The Jets are a franchise starved of success since the days of 'Broadway Joe' Namath. 'Broadway Jamal' may not have the same ring, but he can expect similar levels of hero-worship if the Jets return to postseason relevance.

Tom Brady and Brett Favre congratulated Drew Brees after the New Orleans Saints quarterback set the NFL record for most career touchdown passes.

Brees surpassed Peyton Manning after taking his overall tally to 541 TD passes as the Saints crushed the Indianapolis Colts 34-7 on Monday.

A Super Bowl champion and MVP, 12-time Pro Bowler Brees – who made history in the third quarter – threw four scores in an almost flawless performance in New Orleans.

Brees also set the NFL single-game completion record with a 96.7 per cent performance after going 29 of 30 for 307 yards at Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

New England Patriots superstar Brady – whose 538 mark was also eclipsed by Brees – and Hall of Famer Favre led the praise for the 40-year-old via social media.

Brady tweeted: "Congrats drew!! Couldn't be more deserving. Passing Peyton in anything is an incredible achievement and your records will be tough to beat! But it's worth trying [winking emoji]."

Favre, who was the first quarterback to pass for 500 touchdowns, wrote: "Congrats @drewbrees on an amazing achievement."

Another Hall of Famer Kurt Warner – who won the Super Bowl and MVP during his career – also hailed Brees following the achievement.

"On a historic night for @drewbrees seems only fitting that he has also tied the record for completion percentage in a game at 96.7 per cent [tying Philip Rivers]... Coach Payton - how about one more screen pass to make this an even more historic night?? #WhatSayYouWhoDat?"

Seattle Seahawks QB Russell Wilson wrote via Twitter, "LEGEND! @DrewBrees", while Washington Redskins veteran Adrian Peterson added: "First Ballot Hall of Famer. Congratulations @drewbrees!!!".

It was only Adrian Peterson's second time facing the team he spent a decade with, but the Washington Redskins running back ensured he made a statement.

Peterson, who the Minnesota Vikings selected as the seventh pick in the 2007 NFL draft, moved up the all-time rushing list and into sixth position on Thursday.

The 34-year-old moved up the list with a break-out run against former team the Vikings.

Peterson's efforts saw him surpass LaDainian Tomlinson and Jerome Bettis.

A seven-time Pro Bowler and 2012 MVP, Peterson is in his second season with Washington.

Trades were all the talk around the NFL on Tuesday.

We look at those transactions and more in this edition of NFL news and notes.

 

Three things that matter

Broncos trade Sanders to 49ers

It was reported that the Denver Broncos dealt two-time Pro-Bowl wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders tand a fifth-round pick to the San Francisco 49ers, with NFL Media noting the latter were in on Mohamed Sanu before he went to the New England Patriots. In return, the Broncos received third- and fourth-round picks in 2020 from the Niners.

Sanders, who should welcome the change of scenery joining a playoff contender, has 565 catches for 7,391 and 39 touchdowns over 134 career games with the Pittsburgh Steelers and Broncos.

Patriots acquire Sanu from Falcons

Super Bowl champions New England acquired the wide receiver from the Atlanta Falcons for a second-round pick. Sanu farewelled the Falcons and their fans on Twitter.

Sanu played at Rutgers with the McCourty brothers and Patriots assistant Steve Belichick before being drafted in 2012 by the Cincinnati Bengals, where he remained until he signed with Atlanta in 2016. He has 33 catches for 313 yards and a touchdown this season.

Hall of Fame cornerback Brown dies aged 78

No cause of death has been made public, but support has been overflowing on social media.

Willie Brown will be best remembered on the field for his interception of the Minnesota Vikings' Fran Tarkenton in Super Bowl 11 in 1977 that became an iconic moment in the game's history.

He later served as a defensive backfield coach for the Oakland Raiders from 1979 to 1988 and also was the head coach at Long Beach State in 1991.

Two things that don't matter

Peterson says he's 'ready to go'

Washington Redskins running back Adrian Peterson insisted he will play against his former team in Minnesota on Thursday despite an MRI revealing a Grade 1 high ankle sprain and a Grade 2 low ankle sprain. Peterson initially injured his ankle during Sunday's game against the 49ers after fumbling, finishing with 20 carries for 81 yards. 

The 34-year-old, who has a long history of injuries, has rushed for 307 yards and one touchdown on 83 carries in six games this season. 

XFL reveals schedule for 2020 season

The league is set to open play February 8 when the D.C. Defenders visit the Seattle Dragons. The XFL's eight teams, which have been divided into two divisions, will have 10 games from February 8 to April 12 before the playoffs begin later that month and the championship game takes place April 26.

"It's a big moment for us,'' XFL commissioner Oliver Luck said. "We've got great time slots on the weekends. We think it's a well-designed schedule in terms of competitive balance.''

One video you have to see

Dion Jordan looks ready to get to work.

Tuesday's tweet of the day

Le'Veon Bell held nothing back as he bashed the NFL and defended his quarterback on Twitter after Sam Darnold was heard on "Monday Night Football" saying he was "seeing ghosts."

Adrian Peterson added another achievement to his glittering resume on Sunday in the Washington Redskins' game with the Dallas Cowboys.

The Washington running back scored his 107th career rushing touchdown to pass Hall of Famer Jim Brown on the all-time list.

Peterson, who overtook Barry Sanders (99), Marshall Faulk (100), Shaun Alexander (100) and John Riggins (104) on the all-time list last season, is three rushing touchdowns behind Walter Payton for fourth in NFL history.

The 34-year-old surpassed Brown in the second quarter of Sunday's game against Dallas as he found the endzone on a one-yard run.

His touchdown came after Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott threw his first career interception against Washington. Prescott had 169 attempts in games with Washington under his belt before the pick.

Peterson was a healthy scratch for the first time in his career in the team's Week 1 loss to the Eagles.

Adrian Peterson, who led the Washington Redskins in rushing last season, is among the team's list of inactive players for the Week 1 game against the Philadelphia Eagles.

The move came as a surprise despite head coach Jay Gruden already naming Derrius Guice as Washington's starting running back for the season opener.

The former LSU back - a second-round pick by the franchise in the 2018 draft - missed his entire rookie campaign after suffering a serious knee injury.

"We feel like (Guice) can be a first, second and even a third down back," Gruden told reporters ahead of the trip to Philadelphia. "I think the offense, carries wise, will probably go through him, pretty much."

Still, it was expected Peterson would still get some touches coming off the bench.

He was rewarded in March with a new contract, the seven-time Pro Bowler handed a two-year deal worth $8million.

However, Chris Thompson and Wendell Smallwood will back up Guice for the clash with the Eagles.

The 2018 season gave us a number of record-breaking performances, and there is even more to come in 2019.

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees reached the biggest milestone of the season when he surpassed Peyton Manning's mark of 71,940 yards as he became the NFL's all-time leading passer.

Brees also set records for career completions (6,586) and single-season completion percentage (74.4).

But it was young star Patrick Mahomes who ran away with MVP honours after the Kansas City Chiefs quarterback became only the second NFL player in history to pass for more than 50 touchdowns and 5,000 yards in a season.

Other players who had an impressive statistical season included Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield, who set a rookie record for touchdown passes (27), and Indianapolis Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri – who moved past Morten Andersen (2,544 career points) to become the NFL's all-time scoring leader.

But there is more to come for the NFL's historic 100th season in 2019.

 

NFL milestones that could be reached this season

— Tom Brady (70,514) needs 1,325 passing yards to eclipse Brett Favre for the third most all-time. 

— Philip Rivers (374) requires 26 passing touchdowns to reach 400 in his career.

— Cam Newton (4,808) needs 121 rushing yards to pass Randall Cunningham for the second-most rushing yards ever by a quarterback. Michael Vick holds the record at 6,109.

— Russell Wilson (196) requires four passing touchdowns to reach 200 in his career.

— Adrian Peterson (106) needs one rushing touchdown to pass Jim Brown for the fifth most in NFL history. He (13,318) requires 345 rushing yards to surpass Jerome Bettis for the seventh-most all-time.

— J.J. Watt (92) requires eight sacks to reach 100 in his NFL career.

— Ben Roethlisberger (363) needs 37 passing touchdowns for 400 in his career.

— Larry Fitzgerald (116) requires one touchdown catch to leapfrog Antonio Gates for the sixth-most all-time. He needs 23 receptions to pass Tony Gonzalez for the second-most all-time.

— Antonio Brown's next touchdown catch will be his 75th in his career.

— Cordarrelle Patterson (six) needs two kick-off returns for touchdown to tie the NFL record.

— Von Miller (98) requires two sacks to reach 100 in his NFL career.

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