Adrian Peterson

Adrian Peterson On Injury, FA, Comeback

Adrian Peterson averaged just 1.9 yards per carry during an injury-marred season that featured just 37 totes, but that per-handoff figure was by far a career-low mark. That said, Vikings staffers did not believe Peterson lost much physically before the torn meniscus shelved him for months, according to Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com. However, they saw avoiding future injury at an advanced age and adjusting to a new offense as potential impediments to a bounce-back tenure in New Orleans.

A string of prominent Saints lavished praise upon the 32-year-old with praise during the team’s minicamp this week. As for Peterson himself, he detailed what kind of damage he did to his meniscus and why he feels confident he can return to previous levels.

It’s knowing what I was able to do on the field before I got injured, knowing that the meniscus was completely healed. I tore 90 percent of it, and it was no longer a factor (during his Saints work thus far),” Peterson said, via Breer, from Saints minicamp. “And then it was getting into my regimen—nothing had changed. I was still explosive, fast, working with all the young guys, I didn’t have no doubt at all.”

But after the abbreviated season and an untenable 2017 salary, the Vikings cut Peterson. And although he also visited the Seahawks and Patriots and was connected to other teams, the four-time All-Pro was unemployed for 47 days before catching on with the Saints. The future Hall of Fame running back, though, knew that long stay as a free agent was a possibility.

Yeah, it was different,” Peterson told Breer about his sudden status change in the NFL after 10 seasons being the unquestioned Minnesota starter. “But I knew coming off the meniscus tear, it could happen. If I came out and led the league in rushing (last season), I’d have been off the market. That wasn’t the situation I was in. So in my mind — this is the situation, this is the position you’re in. It’s not what you envisioned going into the offseason, but this is where you’re at. So how are you gonna handle it?

Peterson joined a backfield that as of now has Mark Ingram atop the depth chart and one that now has rookie Alvin Kamara installed as the passing-down back. Peterson famously returned from a torn ACL to post the second-most rushing yards in a season in NFL history, in 2012. He points out that he led the league in rushing yards just two years ago as evidence he can still function at a high level.

Outside sources that doubt because of age? I led the league when I was 30, and it was the same thing then,” Peterson said. “‘He’s going downhill.’ I played with a mediocre offensive line and still led the league at 30. I just look at things different. If I started buying into what everyone was saying, I probably would’ve retired three or four years ago.”

NFC Rumors: Vikings, Decker, Saints

It doesn’t sound like the Vikings will be going after Eric Decker. When asked about the veteran receiver, GM Rick Spielman indicated that the team is content at the position.

We always look at everybody that is released, but we feel pretty confident with our receiving corps right now,’’ Spielman said (via Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press). “Just watching Stefon Diggs (and) Adam Thielen. … Laquon Treadwell is totally different (than as a rookie last year). … And to pick up a Michael Floyd, he’s been real impressive. Jarius Wright, he’s been kind of a forgotten man, but he’s out there making plays every day and we have two rookies that are pretty impressive so far (in Rodney Adams and Stacy Coley). So we feel pretty confident at this point where our depth is at that position, that we do have some weapons. … But … you never know. We always keep the door open for everybody.’’

Here’s more from the NFC:

  • He might be getting ahead of himself a little bit, but Saints running back Adrian Peterson says that he wants to play several more years. Peterson was sporting No. 37 at a charity softball game this week and he told reporters that 37 might be a good age for him to hang ’em up. “I’d be lying to you say it doesn’t give you a chip [on your shoulder]. Especially being a competitor,” the 32-year-old said, via Nick Underhill of the New Orleans Advocate. “It’s not my main focus. It’s something that drives you a little bit. After 30, because it was the same back then. ‘Oh, he’s 30.’ Then I ended up leading the league in 2015. Same thing the next year. Stuff will continue to repeat itself until I finish.” Peterson inked a two-year deal with New Orleans this offseason.
  • Lions safety Tavon Wilson, who is in a contract year, has changed agents. He’s now represented by Wesley Spencer (Twitter link).
  • This week, the Cardinals shifted Andre Ellington back to running back. The Cardinals were experimenting with the idea of moving Ellington to wide receiver.

NFC Notes: Vikings, Peterson, 49ers

Vikings coach Mike Zimmer is taking some time off as he recovers from eye surgery, but the 60-year-old vowed that he’d be back before long.

“I’ll be back shortly. One eye or two, it really doesn’t matter. I’m going to be back,” Zimmer said (via Matt Vensel of the Star Tribune). “So we can put the retiring thing or whatever to bed quickly.”

The coach revealed that there haven’t been any setbacks since he underwent surgery earlier this month, and he indicated that a recent examination revealed that everything was progressing positvely. Zimmer is ultimately hoping to be back on the sideline in early June for organized team activities.

“I miss being in the meetings with players and I especially miss being out on the field, where I can give immediate feedback on technique and things like that,” he said.

Let’s check out some more notes from around the NFC…

  • During the NFL Draft, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan called tight end Vance McDonald to update him on potential trade talks. The 26-year-old offensive weapon appreciated his coach’s willingness to be completely transparent about the rumors. “Basically, it’s just like any other team in the NFL would do,” McDonald told Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com. “If you’re a 2-14 team, obviously, there are a lot of things you can improve on, a lot of spots that need to be filled. There are a lot of things you need to improve upon in the offseason. So if teams are going to call and inquire about you, then obviously the next step is to … call around to every other team…So that’s exactly what happened to me. It isn’t like they don’t want me here. There was never a lack of communication on any level.” McDonald finished last season with career-highs in receiving yards (391) and touchdowns (four).
  • Running back Adrian Peterson is still trying to figure out his fit with the Saints, but his teammates are confident that his presence will result in one of the most explosive offenses in the NFL. “I think he’s looking forward to that,” said fullback John Kuhn (via Brett Martel of the Associated Press). “Not to put words in his mouth, but everybody in here, especially on the offensive side, realizes that the more weapons that we have, the more explosive we can be.”
  • Cardinals wideout Jaron Brown was expected to play a significant role during the 2016 season, but a torn ACL ended his campaign prematurely. Despite the injury, the organization still decided to sign the former undrafted free agent to an extension. Now, Brown is hoping to repay the Cardinals for their good will gesture. “That meant a lot,” Brown told Kent Somers of AZCentral.com. “You don’t see that too many times, and it kind of shows that faith and loyalty in me to get back to where I was. It was good for both sides.”

Details On Adrian Peterson’s Saints Contract

Although Adrian Peterson‘s two-year deal with the Saints has a maximum value of $15.25MM, the veteran running back will have to work to reach that total, as the majority of that figure can only be attained through incentives, as Nick Underhill of the Advocate details.Adrian Peterson (Vertical)

Incentives are linked to both Peterson’s statistics and New Orleans’ team performance, per Underhill. Peterson can earn $150K, $250K, $750K, or $1MM by rushing for 750, 1,000, 1,250, or 1,500 yards, respectively, in each of the next two seasons. He can bring in another $250K, $500K, or $750K if he scores six, eight, or 10 touchdowns, respectively, although Peterson will only unlock the $750K incentive if he also leads the NFL in rushing scores.

If Peterson rushes for 750 yards and the Saints earn a postseason berth, more incentives are available, according to Underhill. Making the playoffs alone in that scenario is worth $250K to Peterson. A conference championship appearance is worth $500K, while a Super Bowl victory would bring Peterson $1MM.

Peterson can also earn $400K in per-game roster bonuses, although that figure could increase based on his 2017 incentives. The amount of incentives Peterson earns in 2017 will be tacked on to his per-game bonus in 2018, per Underhill. Peterson can also take in $73,529 for each week he makes the Saints’ 53-man roster.

Photo courtesy of Pro Football Rumors on Instagram.

NFC Notes: Saints, Cards, Seahawks, Packers

With just one year and $3.5MM guaranteed on his Saints contract, Adrian Peterson is far removed from those lavish salaries he collected in his final years with the Vikings. However, the relocated running back can collect some additional cash via incentives — some of which being attached to reasonable figures. The future Hall of Fame back has $2.75MM in incentives tied to various milestones in each of the next two years, Ben Volin of the Boston Globe tweets. The 32-year-old running back can collect incentive cash by rushing for 750 yards, scoring at least six touchdowns, or the Saints making the playoffs. Volin doesn’t specify how much each milestone would pay out, but these aren’t outrageous numbers. Peterson scored at least 10 touchdowns in all eight of his seasons that didn’t involve a major September setback. However, with Mark Ingram in the picture, there won’t be as many TD opportunities. Ingram has scored 25 touchdowns over the past three seasons.

Additionally, Volin notes a $750K roster bonus will be tied to Peterson’s 2018 New Orleans employment. That’s rather light compared to the massive $18MM option that was tied to the 2017 season on Peterson’s Vikings contract. But a Saints return in what would be Peterson’s age-33 season in ’18 likely hinges on the running back’s health.

Here’s the latest out of the NFC.

  • The Cardinals are following through with their idea to flip their starting tackles. Jared Veldheer will move to right tackle, while third-year man D.J. Humphries‘ future will be on the left side. Veldheer initially voiced opposition to the move, one broached by OC Harold Goodwin, immediately after the 2016 season concluded, Kyle Odegard of AZCardinals.com notes. But the career left tackle is on board now. Humphries played left tackle at Florida and parlayed that performance into a first-round Cardinals draft selection in 2015.
  • Packers rookie linebacker Vince Biegel broke his foot, and the ensuing surgery leaves him questionable to be ready by the start of training camp, ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter and Rob Demovsky report. The intent of this operation, done last week, was to repair a Jones fracture that also plagued him last season at Wisconsin, Demovsky writes. The latest in a slew of mid-round Packers ‘backer picks, hasn’t had a smooth transition into the NFL. A hand injury briefly sidelined him at rookie camp last weekend.
  • Speaking of positioning, the Saints sound like they might be willing to try Stephone Anthony at middle linebacker again. The Saints moved their underwhelming 2015 first-rounder to the strong side last year, but new linebackers coach Mike Nolan said middle ‘backer suits Anthony best, Herbie Teope of NOLA.com notes. Anthony led the Saints in tackles as a rookie but was moved outside and then benched in 2016. And New Orleans added inside linebackers in Manti Te’o and A.J. Klein this offseason, complicating Anthony’s path back to playing time.
  • The Seahawks used a sixth-round pick on Cincinnati safety Mike Tyson, but those rooting for the menacingly named defender to double as a hard-hitting back-line option in the Legion of Boom may be disappointed. Tyson was practicing at cornerback during the Seahawks’ rookie minicamp, according to Sheil Kapadia of ESPN.com. Although, the 6-foot-2 defensive back drew a Byron Maxwell comparison from Pete Carroll, so that’s a good start for a player who might be changing positions.
  • The Lions‘ second-round Teez Tabor investment came after GM Bob Quinn watched more film on the Florida corner than he has on any prospect during his 15-year evaluation career, Nate Atkins of MLive.com notes. The second-year Detroit GM estimated he watched about 14 Gators games with the primary purpose to see if Tabor played faster than his 4.62-second 40-yard dash clocking.

Poll: Which Recent Veteran RB Addition Will Make Biggest Impact?

The Broncos giving Jamaal Charles an opportunity represented a key step for the high-profile free agent running backs. After a complicated offseason for just about every big-name back in search of a new home, the 30-plus contingent of this group found new homes in quick succession.

LeGarrette Blount still needs a new employer, but after the Charles/Adrian Peterson/Marshawn Lynch troika agreed to terms, the 30-year-old’s price range will presumably narrow. With Peterson, Lynch and Charles each being attached to accords worth around $3MM AAV for 2017, with various incentives looming as critical deal points, the 30-year-old Blount may follow suit soon now that the market has essentially been set.

But it’s certainly going to be a change of pace for each of the trio that’s already signed. Each will transition from being his team’s clear-cut No. 1 running back to a cog in backfields that aren’t as certain to be geared around these players.

The Vikings, Seahawks and Chiefs received top-of-the-line production from these three dynamos during the first half of this decade, but the Saints, Raiders and Broncos, respectively, will expect less of them in 2017. How much less is the key question.

Lynch appears to have the clearest road to a steady role, with Oakland prioritizing the 31-year-old recently unretired back instead of diverting resources to a younger ball-carrier in a loaded draft. He’s also going to have a chance to run behind a high-end Raiders offensive front. But Beast Mode has not played a full season since 2014 and will be more than 18 months removed from his last NFL game by the time he suits up in Week 1.

Oakland also has multiple change-of-pace backs in DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard that boasted per-carry averages well north of 5.0 as rookies. Lynch steamrolled his way to four Pro Bowls in Seattle and averaged 4.7 yards per tote in 2014 but struggled a year later to a 3.8-per-handoff average. While the Seahawks’ embattled offensive line can be singled out as a key reason for this production dip for Lynch, Thomas Rawls (5.6 ypc in ’15) looked better by comparison in the pair’s lone season together. The Raiders will deploy a much better array of blockers than did the ’15 Seahawks, but by eschewing younger investments at this young man’s position this offseason, they’re still gambling Lynch can operate at close to his Seahawks form. The Raiders are pleased by Lynch’s condition thus far, at least.

Peterson figures to team with Mark Ingram in New Orleans, but with Ingram being used frequently in the Saints’ passing game the past two seasons, the former Vikings All-Pro’s role will be interesting to observe. Peterson has functioned best as a pure runner since returning from his ACL tear in 2012. While the 32-year-old UFA addition might still be a better ground operator than Ingram when healthy, he struggled behind a porous Vikes offensive line in 2016. Averaging a ghastly 1.9 yards per carry during a season that saw Peterson tear his meniscus, the future Hall of Famer will have to prove he can make another comeback but do so at an age where most running backs are out of the game.

That said, Peterson offered maybe the greatest comeback season for a skill-position player in memory in compiling that 2,097-yard slate five years ago. He then won the 2015 rushing title after the near-season-long 2014 suspension. Drew Brees‘ explosive offense, which ranked No. 1 last season, will help divert defenses from concentrating on stopping Peterson the way Minnesota opponents could for years. Alvin Kamara‘s potential place in this backfield could be a big factor as well, but the Tennessee rookie may carve into the team’s extensive passing-down work instead of exclusively cutting into Peterson’s handoff count.

Charles may bring the highest variance of the acclaimed trio. The Chiefs’ all-time rushing leader will easily be the most accomplished running back on the Broncos’ roster, but he’s obviously missed extensive time the past two years due to knee injuries and is a threat to not make it back at all. Mike Klis of 9News reported Charles was “90 percent” healthy on his signing day. As a result, the NFL’s all-time yards-per-carry king received the smallest financial commitment, at $1MM base value, comparatively. However, at 30 — and with nearly 1,000 fewer career carries (1,332) than Peterson (2,418) and Lynch (2,144) — Charles is the youngest of the three and has a skill set his Bronco mates don’t.

He of a 70-catch season in 2013, the two-time first-team All-Pro has a clear avenue toward the Broncos’ passing-down responsibilities — with the obvious health caveat representing the only barrier. C.J. Anderson is also coming off a severe knee injury. The fifth-year player remains expected to start, but the between-the-tackles grinder hasn’t shown himself to be the type of back Charles has when healthy. The Broncos don’t have an upper-echelon offensive line, but Charles hasn’t been afforded that luxury much in his career and has never finished a season averaging fewer than 5.0 yards per rush. While he surmounted a 2011 ACL tear to re-emerge with dominant 2012 and ’13 campaigns, the veteran now has to do that at an older age and with a more extensive medical history.

There are a lot of moving parts to these stalwarts’ situations, but each certainly has upside. Who do you think will make the biggest impact for his new team this season? Will Charles’ open-field skills make him a bigger weapon than his run-centric peers? Or will Lynch’s comeback tour succeed behind an offensive line featuring three Pro Bowlers? Will Peterson capitalize on Brees and Co.’s setup and prove everyone wrong again? Take PFR’s latest poll and weigh in with your thoughts in the comments section about what should be an interesting year for the running back position.

Saints Notes: Butler, AP, Ingram, Snead

New Orleans hasn’t “really had any discussions for quite some time” about acquiring Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler, according to Saints general manager Mickey Loomis, while head coach Sean Payton notes that the 27-year-old is “with New England, and I don’t think anything has changed. I don’t see anything being imminent as well (links via Josh Katzenstein of NOLA.com).” Their statements came on the heels of a report suggesting the Pats are unlikely to trade Butler, whom the Saints have chased throughout the offseason. New Orleans courted Butler as a restricted free agent and even agreed to a multiyear contract with him, but the club doesn’t want to meet the Patriots’ asking price for the onetime Pro Bowler.

More from New Orleans:

  • Running back Mark Ingram posted a career year in 2016, rushing for 1,043 yards with a 5.1 YPC, catching 46 passes and combining for 10 touchdowns. Now, thanks to the Saints’ addition of seven-time Pro Bowler Adrian Peterson, Ingram will have to share a backfield with a higher-profile rusher. Nevertheless, Ingram is glad to have Peterson on the roster. “I’m all about winning, man,” Ingram said (via Teope). “If this will help us win, I’m all about winning. I’m all for it.” Ingram added that he’s “been sharing the ball with one or two, maybe three guys” since New Orleans drafted him in 2011. That has indeed been the case, as the likes of Pierre Thomas, Tim Hightower and Darren Sproles have gotten plenty of carries during the Ingram era. Hightower picked up 133 last year, for instance, but it didn’t stop Ingram from thriving.
  • Even though Peterson’s a 32-year-old coming off an injury-marred season, signing him carries little risk for the Saints, opines Mike Triplett of ESPN.com. Triplett expects Peterson to have a bigger role in New Orleans than Hightower did, but he notes that Payton is excellent at allocating playing time to multiple running backs. In Triplett’s estimation, Payton’s expertise with RBs likely added to the Saints’ allure for Peterson.
  • Loomis indicated Wednesday that he’s unsure if the Saints’ contract talks with wide receiver Willie Snead will lead to a deal, though he seems optimistic. “He’s here working and I don’t anticipate issues with Willie going forward,” Loomis said (via Herbie Teope of NOLA.com). “I’m excited that he’s here. Look, he’s been a good player, a good contributor to our team and expect him to be our team for a long time.” While Snead could be on the Saints’ books at a relatively meager $615K this year in the absence of a new pact, he still hasn’t signed his exclusive rights free agent tender. Regardless, he’s not eligible for unrestricted free agency until after the 2018 season.

Saints Sign Adrian Peterson

It’s a done deal. The Saints have signed Adrian Peterson, according to a team announcement. It’s a two-year deal with a base value of $7MM, according to Josina Anderson of ESPN.com (via these Twitter links). Peterson gets $3.5MM guaranteed at signing for 2017 and a totally non-guaranteed $3.5MM for 2018. If he plays out the contract and reaches all of his incentives, the total value could get as high as $15.25MM. Adrian Peterson (Vertical)

I am excited to be joining the New Orleans Saints. I’m really looking forward to this opportunity,” Peterson said in a statement to Anderson (Twitter link). “Most importantly, I chose this team because it just felt right within my spirit. Additionally, my wife and family added their confirmation with the same feelings. On offense, it goes without saying that the Saints are really solid behind Drew Brees. I feel like my skill set can make them even more dominant as a unit. They have a great offensive line, which is something that stood out to me as well. I could tell from talking to head coach Sean Payton over the last two weeks that he did his due diligence in evaluating how I could contribute. I also did a lot of homework on the defense as well. While I know that injuries have played a role in performance, I also see areas of potential with a lot of younger guys having the ability to step up. Lastly, it goes without saying that the Saints have an amazing fan base and I look forward to making them proud and creating everlasting memories.”

The expectation now is that Peterson will serve as the main complement to top running back Mark Ingram. The 32-year-old missed the majority of the 2016 season, but he was highly productive in 2015 and he has been able to come back from devastating injuries in the past. After signing Peterson, the Saints can use their impressive stockpile of draft picks in the first three rounds to address other holes (primarily on defense) while leaving the running back position alone.

After the Vikings declined Peterson’s option, he was linked to a whole host of contenders. However, it turned out that teams like the Seahawks, Patriots, Packers, and Giants only had tepid interest in him. Peterson has every reason to play with a chip on his shoulder this season and he should be extra motivated for New Orleans’ season opener against the Vikings.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Saints, Adrian Peterson Nearing Deal

The Saints and Adrian Peterson are believed to be closing in on a deal, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. The pact would pay him $3.25MM in the coming year with the potential to earn about $1MM through incentives (Twitter link). It’s not a done deal, Rapoport cautions, but things are moving in that direction. Adrian Peterson (Vertical)

Earlier today, it was reported that the Saints were still considering Peterson. Apparently, things have heated up to the point where a deal is in sight. Peterson was reportedly willing to play for $5MM or less in the “right situation” and that asking price may have been worked down over time. Given his age and injury history, Peterson was not left with a lot of leverage at this stage of the offseason. If Peterson remained on the market past the draft, his pool of suitors would have shrank significantly.

Peterson, 32, appeared in only three games last season, compiling 72 yards on 37 carries. However, Peterson was excellent in 2015, when he led the NFL in both rushing attempts (327) and yards (1,485).

At present, New Orleans has four running backs on it roster: Mark Ingram, Travaris Cadet, Daniel Lasco, and Marcus Murphy. If signed, Peterson would slot behind Ingram but presumably still get a decent number of carries.

Photo courtesy of Pro Football Rumors on Instagram.

Saints Still In On Adrian Peterson

The Saints are still very much involved with Adrian Peterson, according to Jeff Duncan of The Times-Picayune (on Twitter). The two sides still talking about a short-term deal to bring him to New Orleans. Adrian Peterson

[RELATED: Giants Monitoring Adrian Peterson, LeGarrette Blount]

Peterson is reportedly willing to play for $5MM or less in the “right situation” and the Saints could be one of the clubs that fits the bill for him. Although they’re coming off of a down year, the Saints have the pieces in place to contend as well as a winning culture. They have significant holes to fill on defense, but they would be in solid shape offensively with the addition of Peterson.

Peterson met with the Saints earlier in April and reportedly looked explosive during a workout session with the Patriots. The Giants, meanwhile, are still monitoring No. 28. We know that there’s at least a couple of teams with interest in Peterson, but it’s not clear if any club is willing to commit to him in advance of this week’s draft. With younger and cheaper talent readily available, Peterson will likely have to wait until at least May to find his next NFL home.

If Peterson does sign with the Saints, his first regular season game will come against the Vikings in Week 1.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.