Mike Freeman's 10-Point Stance: Will Peterson or Rice Play in the NFL Again?

Mike Freeman@@mikefreemanNFLNFL National Lead WriterNovember 12, 2014

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1. The futures of Rice and Peterson

No matter what you hear about all of the procedural hearings, timelines and judicial proceedings, here is the bottom line when it comes to two of the highest-profile NFL criminals in recent history: 

Adrian Peterson is a pariah, but he will play again.

Ray Rice is a bigger pariah, and he most likely won't.

There are potential variations on that bottom line, but it is by far the likeliest outcome. So while the union and the NFL fight over the futures of both players, those futures are probably already set.

Rice's situation is the most interesting. League officials believe it's virtually impossible for Roger Goodell to keep Rice out of football for a substantial period of time. The union belief that Rice is essentially being punished twice is likely correct. At some point soon, Rice will be reinstated.

Jason DeCrow/Associated Press

The question is what will happen when Rice is eligible to return. Team officials say that, for the moment, there is almost no interest in the running back. What teams are weighing, one team executive said, is Rice's ability versus the storm of hell that would rain down on any franchise that employs him.

Rice's skills were already dramatically in decline. That fact, combined with his heinous act, makes Rice a difficult, if not impossible, player for a team to sign. That video, that ugly video, doesn't just stick to Rice; it also sticks to any team—the owner, the general manager—that would sign him. 

Very few teams, if any, will want to take that risk.

Peterson is different. He ran for more than 3,000 yards over the past two seasons. And while his crime was also awful, there seems to be—anecdotally and unbelievably—more sympathy for the fact that Peterson beat his four-year-old son. Just look at some of the message boards and Twitter rants. Whenever I write that Peterson was an animal to his own child, I get hundreds of tweets saying he was justified.

CONROE, TX - OCTOBER 08:  NFL player Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings waits with his wife Ashley Brown after making a court appearance at the Montgomery County municipal building on October 8, 2014 in Conroe, Texas. Peterson did not enter a plea,
Scott Halleran/Getty Images

So there will be arguments and legal battles, but with those two players we know what will likely happen.

Peterson will play again.

Rice probably won't.

2. Losers

Mike Roemer/Associated Press

I don't know what kind of person would use Twitter to attack the daughter of a coach. What kind of despicable human being would do something like that. What kind of troll. What kind of loser. I do know there is nothing the NFL or the Chicago Bears can do about it. It happens all the time on the Internet, and yes, some of you will say why draw attention to it—but maybe finding out who the trolls are, and shaming them, is the best way to combat such ugliness. I don't know. I just know no one deserves that.

3. Scary Eagles


The one thing that is frightening about Philadelphia is how many of its touchdowns are coming on special teams. From ESPN Stats and Info:

ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo

Eagles have scored 8 touchdowns on special teams and defense this season, twice as many as any other team in the NFL

That is simply incredible. If I'm the rest of the league, this terrifies me. Because if Philadelphia gets its offense playing as well as its special teams, the Eagles would be damn near unbeatable.

4. Bears stuck with Cutler for now

Mike Roemer/Associated Press

One thing has become clear with Jay Cutler: He can't be trusted.

He's not someone a franchise can consistently win with. Not even close. Watching Cutler and Aaron Rodgers on the field was a startling contrast. One player was precise and brilliant, like a high-quality timepiece. The other was Cutler.

The problem for the Chicago Bears remains that unless they trade Cutler, the team is likely stuck with him for two years.

Cutler's contract calls for $54 million in guaranteed money. He's already been given $38 million of that. The Bears could save some cash by releasing him before March of 2015 or 2016, as Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio points out. The other side of that coin, via the Chicago Tribune's Brad Biggs, is that doing so "would leave the Bears on the hook for a massive cap hit of $19.5 million."

So there will be lots of Cutler face (and interceptions, regression and indifference) in Chicago for two years. It's unlikely a team would trade for Cutler so they could see firsthand the interceptions, regression and indifference.

Sorry Chicago. You're stuck with him for a bit. More jersey burning to come.

5. Browns offense keeps it simple

AJ Mast/Associated Press

Quick note on the Browns. One of the reasons they are winning (not a surprise for those of us who thought they'd do well this season) is that their offense is fairly simple. This is not an insult. Simple is good in football. Where the Browns are especially so is on the offensive line. The offense is committed to the run, uses a lot of zone blocking (easier for linemen) and runs a lot of play action.

6. Extreme violence

This pass rush is maybe the best of season so far. It may end up being the best of the season, period. It demonstrates just the sheer brutality and aggression of the sport. The rules changes have softened the violence (somewhat), but the NFL, despite complaints from some fans, remains utterly brutal. 

7. Best sack dance ever?

I may be the only one fascinated by this, but I can't stop watching. Can't. Stop. Watching. Just wanted to share. OK, I'm done.

8. Cardinals making history

Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

From the NFL: The Cardinals "improved to 8-1 for the first time since 1948." 1948. Also: "This is the first time the Cardinals have owned the best record in the NFL after nine games since 1966." You know what debuted in 1966? Star Trek, that's what. It's an omen. The Cardinals are going to the Super Bowl.

9. Teams will line up to sign Lynch

Elaine Thompson/Associated Press

The Seahawks will likely part ways with Marshawn Lynch after this season for a variety of reasons. One of the main ones is Lynch doesn't get along with the coaching staff (Seattle denial in three, two, one…). But no matter what Lynch's rep is with Seattle coaches, if he is excommunicated, another team will sign him lickety.

At times this week, especially late in the game, the Giants looked scared to tackle him. I mean, outright scared. Lynch rushed for four touchdowns and became only the third player in franchise history to rush for four scores, according to the league. The other two were Shaun Alexander and Curt Warner.

Other teams see what maybe some in that organization take for granted: Lynch is the key to that team. Get rid of him at your own peril, Seattle.

10. More ridiculous offense

Mike Roemer/Associated Press

It just doesn't stop. The offense. It grows and grows and grows. Like a Sharknado.

According to the NFL, "Teams have combined for 6,862 points this season, the most points through 10 weeks in NFL history." That breaks the record set…last season.

Also, "Teams have combined to score 781 touchdowns and have thrown 499 touchdown passes, both of which are the most ever through Week 10." Those break the records set…last season.

These records will likely be broken next season because of Offense-nado.

Mike Freeman covers the NFL for Bleacher Report.