Adrian Peterson spent 10 years as the face of the Minnesota Vikings, but the veteran running back is heading elsewhere for the twilight of his career. After the Vikings declined his 2017 option, Minnesota brought in Latavius Murray to replace the veteran runner.
Peterson signed a two-year deal with the New Orleans Saints, the team announced Tuesday, that will pay him around $3 million in 2017, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. He will be playing for just the second team of his career.
Peterson played college ball at the University of Oklahoma, where he became a prolific runner and finished second in the Heisman Trophy voting in 2004. Despite lingering injury concerns, the Vikings took Peterson with the No. 7 overall pick in the 2007 NFL draft. Peterson became an instant star, rushing for 1,341 yards and 12 touchdowns in his first NFL season. He took home the Offensive Rookie of the Year award for his efforts.
Peterson made the Pro Bowl four straight years between 2007-10, staying mostly healthy the whole time. His career hit a speed bump in 2011, when he tore his ACL late in the season. Most people didn’t expect him to be ready in time to start the 2012 season, but Peterson made a superhuman recovery and was back for Week 1. He went on to have one of the greatest RB seasons ever, piling up 2,097 rushing yards and averaging 6 yards per carry, finishing just 9 yards short of Eric Dickerson’s single-season record. Peterson won both MVP and Offensive Player of the Year.
In 2014, Peterson became engulfed in controversy when he was indicted on child abuse charges. The public outrage led to the Vikings suspending Peterson before he was eventually placed on the Commissioner’s Exempt List, missing the entire season after just one game. Peterson took a plea bargain deal and was reinstated in the 2015 offseason.
He returned to the Vikings’ starting lineup and led the league with 1,485 rushing yards, but there were some cracks forming between him and the team. Getting up there in years, Peterson’s fumbling problems became a real liability, and he didn’t quite fit in the shotgun-heavy offense the Vikings tried building around young quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. Knee injuries wiped out most of Peterson’s 2016 season, as he appeared in just three games and averaged 1.9 yards per carry.
It’s hard to tell how much Peterson has left in the tank — 32-year-old running backs with bad knees are a risky investment.
He’ll have a reduced workload — at least compared to his Vikings days — with the Saints. Coach Sean Payton has typically spread carries among a platoon of tailbacks in New Orleans. The team’s leading rusher has had fewer than 160 touches in five of the last seven seasons. In his last healthy campaign — 2015 — Peterson carried the ball 327 times.
He’ll share time with Mark Ingram, who had his most productive year as a pro last fall. Ingram had his first 1,000-yard season on the ground and racked up a career-high 10 touchdowns for the Saints.
It won’t take long for Peterson to play his old team, as the Saints and Vikings play on Monday Night Football in Week 1 at Minnesota.