New Orleans just did a major solid for ESPN. Breaking news this morning, Tuesday, April 25, is that is the Saints are signing former Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson.
It just so happens that the Saints travel to Minnesota in week one of the 2017 NFL season. That game will also be the first in a double-header for Monday Night Football on ESPN. The “worldwide leader” network now can hype the hell out of Peterson facing his former team to get eyeballs on a game that starts at 6 p.m.
New Orleans ends up with a future Hall of Fame running back on a team-friendly two-year deal. Peterson disclosed the details of the deal, which will pay him just $3.5 million this season between a $1-million salary and $2.5 million signing bonus. The whole $3.5 million is guaranteed for this season at signing.
The second year of the contract is also for $3.5 million, but none of it is guaranteed for the 2018 season. If Peterson is with the Saints, he will make $2.4 million in a roster bonus that includes $750,000 guaranteed on the third day of free agency plus $1.65 million per game, $1.05 million in salary and a $50,000 workout bonus.
Before signing with the Saints, some media sources suggested that Peterson wanted $8 million a year, which the running back debunked, and other reports said the running back wanted $4 million to $6 million per year or $5 million to play this season.
New Orleans got the 32 year old for less than any of the reports that were out in March. Peterson is the 22nd-highest-paid running back behind 33-year-old Indianapolis Colt Frank Gore, who is making $4 million this season. Peterson is also making less than the Saints’ No. 1 running back, Mark Ingram.
Peterson went on the market after the Vikings decided not to pick up an $18-million team option on the running back. It took Peterson two months to find a new team, and with the upcoming draft featuring a strong class of running backs, it seemed like he might not find a new home until after the draft.
Peterson is second on the active list of running backs with 11,747 yards for 16th on the all-time rushing list, again behind Gore, who has amassed 13,065 yards and is 8th on the all-time rushing list.
Peterson missed most of last season with injuries, and in 2014, he missed time due to a suspension. However, he has proven his value on a few times in recent years. He rushed for 2,097 yards in 2012, earning the MVP Award for that season, and he rushed for 1,485 yards to lead the league during the 2015 season, as he has fought back Father Time.
This won’t be the first time Peterson has played with a Hall of Fame-worthy quarterback. While in Minnesota, he teamed with quarterback Brett Favre and reached the NFC Championship Game during the 2009 season.
In the 2010 NFC Championship Game, Peterson and the Vikings ran into the Drew Brees’ Saints. Peterson fumbled three times in that game, and New Orleans was able to keep the ball for the entire overtime period to win. The Saints went on to win the Super Bowl that season.
Peterson rushed for 1,383 yards on 314 carries with 18 touchdowns in the 2009 season with Favre. It seems unlikely that he will get that many carries with the Saints now, splitting time with Ingram, who got 205 carries for 1,043 yards. Ingram’s back, Tim Hightower, also rushed for 548 yards on 133 carries, but he signed with the San Francisco 49ers during free agency.
While there are several unknowns about the Peterson signing, it is likely that Ingram will do most of the pass blocking and catching since Peterson has stunk at those tasks for most of his career.
New Orleans could use Ingram and Peterson much like the Dallas Cowboys used their running game. The Saints could move to a ball-control offense that keeps its defense off the field for longer stretches in games.
This allows the defense to rest and helps avoid a complete rebuild this offseason. New Orleans can then use their two first-round picks in the draft to get better on defense and bring those players along with the strong running game.
The Saints could commit to the run and still have Brees to sling the ball all over the field if they fall behind. This game plan would take pressure on the aging quarterback since he won’t have to carry the bulk of the load.
If used correctly, this signing could be the start of a playoff run for the Saints. A healthy Peterson with a plenty to prove could make for a monster season. Even if this signing turns out to be a bust, it didn’t cost the Saints that much to take a chance on the future Hall of Famer.