Future NFL Hall of Famer and All-Pro runningback Adrian Peterson inked a two-year deal worth $7 million with the New Orleans Saints.
Peterson spent the first 10 years of his career with the Minnesota Vikings where he amassed 11,747 yards and 97 TDs on the ground. His best season came in 2012 when he became the seventh player to rush for 2,000 yards in a single season. He was a mere eight yards shy of breaking the single season record held by Eric Dickerson.
Peterson has arguably been the best back in the league since his rookie year in 2007. He has been the model back for consistency. He has broken the 1,000 yard mark in seven seasons and has rushed for double digit touchdowns in eight of them.
So this has got to be a great deal right? Before we claim that, let’s look at everything.
Wear and Tear
Considering the shelf life for a runningback is lower than most positions and the older you get the tougher it gets, it has to be a concern. As defensive players get stronger and faster, backs are asked to do much less from a workload standpoint. Gone are the days where the top 10 backs would all reach 325 carries per season.
Peterson tore his meniscus during the second game of 2016. He also managed a whopping 1.9 yards per carry.
I understand Peterson rushed for nearly 1,500 yards just two years ago which is fantastic. But when you’re a 32-year-old back with nearly 12,000 yards worth of wear and tear and coming off a serious knee injury, forgive me for not screaming at the rooftops that the Saints signed him.
Where does he fit in?
I will be honest here. He is the same damn player as Mark Ingram. In fact, I would argue at this point in their respective careers, Ingram could be the better back. He is coming off his best year where he broke 1,000 and got pay dirt 10 times, meanwhile averaging over five yards per carry. Bottom line, both are two down backs. It will be a battle for carries.
With both of them being almost the same the style of runningback, have no fear. We have seen Sean Payton use multiple backs time and time again. Remember the magical 2009 season (this doesn’t mean I am calling Super Bowl like some morons out there), it featured a three headed monster with Reggie Bush (3rd Down), Mike Bell (2 down and short yardage) and of course Pierre Thomas (Mix).
Maybe we see a similar three back system with Peterson and Ingram running it down defenses throats and then whoever the hell they use on third down…
Third Down Back Void
Despite them having Petergram (sad attempt at a nickname, but I don’t care. I’m better than you and I know it), there is still a void at third down. If any of you say “what about Travaris Cadet or Marcus Murphy?” Oh you mean the project player (Cadet) since 2012 and a return specialist (Murphy)? Yeah, good talk. Let me know how the works (insert fart noise).
I am not totally ruling out the Saints drafting McCaffrey at 11. If they do, I think it will be a wasted pick, but I wouldn’t be completely bummed. I do think McCaffrey could be a very productive NFL player both on third down and special teams. Ideally, I would much rather see them take a pass rusher or defensive player that early. They need that more.
You could certainly find someone in the later rounds to be a third down back. Perhaps, they could take UL star Elijah McGuire. If they prefer to take someone off the free agent market, the injury prone Jamaal Charles (if cheap price obviously) is still available, as well as former Saint Khiry Robinson.
Draft Day Trade
With Peterson coming to town, does this mean Mark Ingram is on his way out? Could we see a draft day trade? I would say it is highly unlikely, but Ingram is a bit of a head case and we have seen him benched time and time again. That usually lights a fire under his ass though.
Although Sean Payton has said both backs are planned to be utilized going forward…remember when he ripped the media for discussing the Brandin Cooks trade? Clearly they were right about that. Likely Ingram trade? Probably not. I would say less than 10% of that happening. But my jaw won’t hit the floor if it happens.
Assuming that Peterson will split time with Ingram and perhaps another back, I could see him in more of complementary role with Ingram shouldering the load as Payton said.
Ideally, if AP can reach 700 yards and keep the touchdowns in double digits, that would be a huge win for the Saints. I am also not totally ruling out that Peterson takes over as starting back and breaks 1,100 – 1,200 yards. As I talked about with the wear and tear, there are just too many uncertainties.
But I remember how people said it would be tough for him to come back from his ACL tear and he pissed on that and had his best season ever.
He will be running behind arguably the best run blocking offensive line in the NFL. Football Outsiders ranked them first last season. Pro Football Focus sang a similar tune and had them third. It was only beefed up with the signing of Larry Warford.
Maybe if Sean Payton would actually utilize the run more, it would help. As bad as the defense has been, the offensive numbers are inflated because how many time do we see teams bring their prevent defenses out and the saints start going ape shit? Too fucking much.
They have been so irresponsible with spending the last four to five years. We have seen guys like CJ Spiller, that fuck boy Brandon Browner and Junior Galette become dead money. Meanwhile, the Saints have tried to nail big stars like Jarius Byrd in free agency and whiff. This is normally where I would knock the tar out of them.
But, I am not going to do that today.
With Peterson scheduled to average $3.5 million over the next two years, a huge bargain. If he doesn’t pan out, you’re not putting yourself in a massive hole. If he does, well you’re paying him peanuts for high end production.
From a financial standpoint, the move is brilliant. I don’t say that often about the Saints. So drink it in maaaaaaan.
I have been one of the Saints biggest critics over the last few years because of stupidity in the front office due to an owner who doesn’t know his ass from a hole in the ground. The Saints have been very responsible this year in free agent spending and Peterson is no different. This is a low risk, high reward deal and that is always a win for your business or franchise.
Does this mean we can start chanting Super Bowl? No. I don’t know that this team even makes the playoffs. Running backs don’t typically move the needle much in terms of wins. I hope this will give the Saints more balance and create better play calling.
If the defense still sucks, run the ball, eat the clock and use the Cowboys approach when DeMarco Murray ran wild. You can’t lose if the other team doesn’t have many chances to score.
Either way, kudos Saints. Now go get some nice new toys in the draft.