Adrian Peterson could be the veteran the Broncos need on offense

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Sep 18, 2016; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson (28) smiles prior to the game against the Green Bay Packers at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Tony Romo is retired. That’s it, no more no less. Instead of slinging passes to No. 88 and No. 10 (Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders, respectively) as a quarterback, he will be in booth during NFL games as a CBS broadcaster.

The anticlimactic end to the media craze that overtook the Denver and Houston areas for the entirety of winter.

Now it appears Denver has a two horse race for the right to be the Broncos’ starting quarterback: Trevor Siemian or last year’s first-round pick Paxton Lynch.

But just because Romo decided to hang up the cleats doesn’t mean Denver’s offensive depth chart is set in stone. There is still a future Hall of Famer available on the free agent market that could give Denver’s offense the boost it was hoping to get from a Tony Romo signing. Perhaps not in the passing game, but in other areas.

His name is Adrian Peterson. And his 11,747 career total rushing yards would have a lot to contribute to Denver’s running game.

The running back position has been one of Denver’s greatest weaknesses on the offensive side of the ball. The team managed only 92.8 yards per game last season, which ranked 27th in the league.

Some will point to the offensive line, which did little to open up running lanes for the Broncos’ running backs last season. But when looking at the offensive line Denver currently has on their roster, which includes their Pro Bowl Center (Matt Paradis) coming off of double hip surgery and currently no starting left tackle, it’s possible that Denver could see similar play on the offensive line heading into next season.

The Broncos are going to need a running back who can do a lot when given a little. In other words, exactly the kind of running back Adrian Peterson is.

In his last full season in the NFL, Peterson tore through the league with 1,485 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns en route to an All-Pro and Pro Bowl season.

Yes, Peterson has been oft-injured as of late. But injuries didn’t stop the clamoring for Tony Romo, who hasn’t been healthy since 2014.

Besides a solid upgrade at the position, signing Peterson would bring other benefits to Denver’s offense as a whole.

The importance of a reliable running back cannot be overlooked, especially for the situation the Broncos have at quarterback. With Siemian having had offseason shoulder surgery and Lynch still learning the speed of the game, Peterson would take the burden of carrying the offense off of both young quarterbacks.

A running back that can pick up the tough third-and-short situations or be a threat to take a 2 yard hand-off to the house makes the opposing defenses respect the Broncos’ running game, opening up better passing situations for the quarterback.

Shoring up the running back position would allow the Broncos to set their sights on one of the draft’s premiere left tackles, the team’s biggest need. There would be no need to sacrifice precious draft selections to trade up for the fan-favorite Christian McCaffrey. And no reason to take a chance on the troubled Joe Mixon.

Signing Peterson would allow Denver to rebuild their offense in the most efficient way possible. With Romo riding off into the sunset, Peterson gives Denver the veteran presence that the team could rely on to make a push to the Super Bowl.

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