Before the confusion, excitement or outrage set it, let’s be clear. The New Orleans Saints are simply kicking the tires.
There is a very real chance the Saints sign Adrian Peterson, of course. If there wasn’t they wouldn’t bring him in for a visit.
The Saints do have a need at RB. Conventional wisdom paints that need as a satellite back, a receiving-back who can operate out of the shotgun and create mismatches with linebackers. Adrian Peterson, for all his talent, is not that guy.
But the Saints also recently lost Tim Hightower, their backup to Mark Ingram’s between the tackles role. If Peterson signed with New Orleans, it would be to replace Hightower and POSSIBLY to compete with Ingram for the starting gig.
Yes, I said possibly. While Adrian Peterson is arguably the greatest running back of this generation and still seems to have something left in the tank, I’m not even confident that he would take the starting job from Ingram. Ingram is a better pass-blocker and a better receiver out of the backfield.
Still, Peterson would see plenty of field. The Saints like to cycle our their lead backs from possession to possession. And he would improve the roster. I like Daniel Lasco, but at this point it’s pretty hard to argue that Adrian Peterson wouldn’t be an upgrade.
But all that said, there’s plenty of reason to believe Peterson won’t end up in Black and Gold.
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First of all, Peterson plainly is not in top form. The Patriots—who have plenty of cap space—hosted him to a workout last week. Peterson left New England without a contract. You KNOW that he would have jumped at the chance to play for the Superbowl Champs. His lack of contract tells us two things:
One, that Peterson is asking for too much money. Belichick is famously fiscal and would have signed Peterson if the price had been right.
Two, that Peterson is no longer the player that he was. He put together a bad 2016 season, but that’s easy to chalk up to injuries. But if his workout had showed that he had recovered, that he was again one of the best backs of this generation, then no asking price would have been too much. The Patriots would have signed him.
And if the Saints are going to invest in an offensive weapon, there are far better options than a 32-year-old running back. Even if that back is Adrian Peterson.
You know this name is going to come up in every Saints-Peterson discussion: Christian McCaffrey. He’s just such a better fit for the Saints schematically. He serves the role that’s been missing in New Orleans for years: the matchup nightmare.
Spending big money or spending an early round draft pick are comparable investments. If the Saints are going to go all out, they’d better do it for a player like McCaffrey. (Don’t get me started on Mixon, though.)
If Adrian Peterson is okay with, say, $2-4M over two years, I’d be fine with that. But my gut tells me he wants way more than that.
Cheap is cheap, and depth is depth. But don’t break the bank for a shell of Peterson.