Adrian Peterson has finally found a new home, agreeing to a two-year, $7 million contract with the New Orleans Saints this morning. With Peterson joining Drew Brees, this will give New Orleans the NFL’s active passing and rushing touchdown leaders and mark the first time that’s happened in the NFL since 1983 when the Steelers deployed the likes of Terry Bradshaw and Franco Harris.
The Saints were one of only a handful of teams that had publicly shown interest in Peterson and decided not to risk waiting until after the weekend when other teams may have had an unforeseen need at the position based on missing out on a running back in the upcoming 2017 NFL Draft. The deal is constructed as that of a flyer for the Saints as it will pay Peterson $3.5 million immediately and includes just a $1 million guaranteed salary in 2017 and a $2.5 million signing bonus. His 2018 salary will include no guarantees, $1.1 million in salary and $2.4 million in various roster bonuses. The deal is clearly designed for the Saints to see if they’ve found lightning in a bottle with the now 32-year old future Hall of Famer. The deal has long ranging impact, so let’s break it down.
Adrian Peterson, RB NO
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Few players in history have impacted the running back position like Peterson. Over his ten-year career, Peterson has rushed for 11,747 yards (16th all-time), caught 241 passes and scored a total of 102 touchdowns for the Minnesota Vikings after being the seventh overall pick in the 2007 NFL Draft. Simply put, Peterson has been a dominant force in both reality and fantasy. The question now is just which Peterson the Saints are getting – is it the 2015 version that saw him rush for 1,485 yards and 11 touchdowns or the 2016 version that saw him rush for just 1.9 yards per carry behind a bad offensive line and get injured after just three games? The move reminds many of legendary dynasty league running backs like Emmitt Smith or Edgerrin James when they moved on to Arizona in an attempt to prolong their careers after making their mark with different teams.
Peterson will no longer be the unquestioned bellcow at running back and centerpiece of his offense. In fact, he may not even be the starter with Mark Ingram in the mix with the Saints. New Orleans will undoubtedly find ways to get both players involved, though they were just 18th in the league in rushing attempts with 25.2 per game. Ingram had 205 carries last year and former Saint Tim Hightower had 133 to take the bulk of those. I’d expect a more even distribution of the 400 carries to go around next season. However, if Peterson shows his prime form (an event that would surprise very few knowing how well he takes care of himself), the distribution could be flip-flopped with Peterson taking 60% and Ingram taking the other 40%. Peterson should be in line for goal line carries, however.
The days of Peterson being a cornerstone of a dynasty team and an elite RB1 are long gone. Still, he could provide a nice short-term burst for a contending team over the next couple of seasons. Just remember the last time we saw him he was really struggling to make an impact and looked like the always undefeated Father Time had started to take over. Peterson is not the 2,000 yard runner from 2012 and owners who are counting on that are likely going to be very disappointed. He is going to be more in the touchdown dependent RB2 range moving forward.
Mark Ingram, RB NO
The Saints were always going to add a running back either through free agency or the draft to replace the departed Hightower and they settled on Peterson. While many will feel this is the kiss of death in regards to Ingram’s value, I don’t believe that at all. While he has spent time in the Sean Payton doghouse at times, Ingram is coming off his first 1,000 yard season and has also caught 96 passes over the past two seasons. He also averaged 5.1 yards per carry last year, which was a career best. While Peterson will undoubtedly get his chances and likely take over the goal line carries, it’s not like the Saints are just going to forget about the 27-year old Ingram. While it’s not great news, a blow to his value and likely puts easy scoring opportunities in the rearview mirror for Ingram, I believe this could represent a good opportunity to acquire Ingram on the cheap from an owner who is going overboard with “name recognition” in regards to Peterson joining New Orleans. There’s a great chance Peterson just may not have juice in the tank any longer and the signing could actually help Ingram in the short term if Peterson fails to be productive. The ADP comparison chart shown below will be very interesting to evaluate in about a month.
Travaris Cadet, RB NO
I wouldn’t be dropping Cadet based on this news. Peterson isn’t known as a pass catching specialist and Cadet should retain his pass catching role for the Saints after catching 40 passes last season. While not a supremely coveted dynasty league asset, Cadet has shown to be useful in stretches throughout his career.
Daniel Lasco, RB NO
The signing of Peterson actually hurts Lasco the most. Some dynasty owners had Lasco buried on their roster in hopes he’d get a chance at some point. With Peterson in tow, that doesn’t look like it’s happening any time soon.
Drew Brees, QB NO
Don’t even think for a second the Saints are now a run-first offense. This signing does nothing to the values of Brees, Michael Thomas or any of the other Saints offensive weapons that reside outside the backfield.
Marshawn Lynch, RB SEA and Jamaal Charles, RB FA
With Peterson off the market, these are clearly the best two running backs on the market. It seems Lynch and the Raiders need to have something worked out by draft day (Peterson signing with New Orleans could give Lynch a little leverage) and Charles seems to be being forced to wait things out. Such is life as a veteran running back.
Ken is on Twitter at DLF_KenK
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