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Adrian Peterson To Sign With Saints/Is He A Good Fit?

Photo Courtesy: Getty Images
Photo Courtesy: Getty Images

 

Adrian Peterson will be playing for the New Orleans Saints in 2017.

ESPN.com reports that Peterson, a future Hall of Fame running back, will sign a one-year deal with the Saints, with a one-year option, for approximately $7 million.

The Minnesota Vikings decided in late February they were would not be not picking up the option on the contract of Peterson for next year, which made the leading rusher in the history of that franchise an unrestricted free agent

By not picking up the option on Peterson’s contract for next season, the Vikings saved $18 million.

The 32-year Peterson suffered a torn meniscus last season, limiting him to only three games, in which he gained 72 yards on 37 attempts.

It was the second time in three years that Peterson missed the majority of a season, after being limited to only one game in 2014, after being suspended due to child abuse charges.

The 7th-overall pick in the 2007 NFL Draft out of Oklahoma, Peterson is a 7-time Pro Bowler, and won the 2012 NFL Most Valuable Player award, after rushing for 2,097 yards and 12 touchdowns.

A native of Palestine, Texas, Peterson led the NFL in rushing yards in three different seasons (2008, 2012, and 2015), and has accumulated 11,747 NFL rushing yards, to go along with 97 touchdowns, in parts of 10 seasons.

So, how will Peterson fit in with the Saints?

Well, he’s 32-years old now, and coming off a major injury. He also had a major knee injury back in 2011. So all of those are reasons for concern.

That being said, in 2015, just two years ago, in his last full season, Peterson rushed for 1,485 yards and 11 touchdowns, while averaging 4.5 yards-per-carry.

Looking even deeper, in his last two full seasons, 2013 and 2015, Peterson averaged over 1,300 rush yards, 10.5 touchdowns, and 4.5 yards a rush.

Those are solid numbers.

But again, Peterson’s injury (injuries), and especially his age, are a major concern.

Only three running backs in the history of the league, at the age of 32 or older, have ever rushed for 1,000 yards in a single season.

Ironically, a former Saints player, Ricky Williams, rushed for 1,121 yards at the age of 32, as a member of the Miami Dolphins in 2009.

Emmitt Smith also accomplished the feat, rushing for 1,021 yards with the Dallas Cowboys in 2001, while Mike Anderson rushed for 1,014 yards for the Denver Broncos in 2005.

As a 32-year old, time is not on Peterson’s side.

But the Saints aren’t bringing Peterson aboard to rush for 1,000 yards. They already have a back that rushed for over 1,000 yards last year, in Mark Ingram.

Nobody is realistically expecting Peterson to recapture his glory days either.

He’s going to be a piece, not the centerpiece.

Peterson is going to take some of the load off of Ingram, and maybe carry the load for a couple of games, should Ingram go down due to injury.

Peterson is unlikely to ever be Arian Peterson ever again, but can he be Tim Hightower?

Last season, Hightower rushed for over 500 yards, averaging 4.1 yards-per-carry, while Ingram and Hightower, combined, rushed for 1,591 yards and 11 touchdowns.

Understand, George Rogers holds the record for most rushing yards by a Saints running back in a single seasons, gaining 1,674 yards back in 1981.

The back-up for Rogers, Wayne Wilson, rushed for only 137 yards that season, giving the two 1,811 combined rushing yards.

So, last season, on a passing team, Ingram and Hightower only finished with 137 less rushing yards than the two top backs on a running team which featured the team record-holder for most rushing yards.

Ingram and Hightower were fantastic last season. Can Ingram and Peterson be equally as impressive?

Peterson is going to be a two-down back, giving Ingram some drives off.

Peterson, unlike Ingram, and even Hightower, won’t be picking up many blitzes, and he won’t help you much in the passing game.

Again, the Saints are adding Peterson to be a running back, period.

They’re also getting him at a cheap price, with maybe a little bit of a chip on his shoulder.

If Peterson can average 4.0 yards-per-carry on first down, setting the offense up in second and manageable situations, and also provide them with solid short yardage running, the signing will be a good one..

Sean Payton is a great offensive mind, and he’ll figure out a way to best utilize the talents of Peterson, without taking away from the strengths of anyone else.

The Saints aren’t getting the Adrian Peterson of 2012, and they understand that.

What they’re hoping they’re getting is a player that can simply make them better than they were last year, and Peterson may very well be able to do that.

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