Adrian Peterson left his longtime team in Minnesota and joined the New Orleans Saints in the offseason. The move was a bit of a head scratcher: why would the Saints, who already have an explosive offense centered around passing and a talented running back in Mark Ingram, add an aging back? Peterson is not much of a pass catcher, and is known to be bad at pass blocking. Drew Brees has been running the Saints offense for 11 seasons now, and during his tenure the Saints have lead the league in passing yards per game six times. With Peterson’s noted weaknesses, he seems like a terrible fit.
The Saints released an unofficial depth chart yesterday, and Peterson and Ingram were listed as co-starters at running back. Ingram will almost certainly get more total touches due to his catching ability, which really sets him apart from Peterson. It will be interesting to see how the Saints dish out touches for the two backs this season.
Last year, Ingram carried the ball 205 times and Tim Hightower (who is currently in training camp with the 49ers) got 133 attempts. In the eight seasons that Peterson played more than 10 games in Minnesota, he averaged 295 carries a season, almost as many as Ingram and Hightower got put together. To be fair, Peterson is 32 and the idea of him carrying his usual workload seems far fetched. It will be interesting to see how a future Hall of Famer deals with getting significantly less carries than he is used to.
Peterson adds another dimension to the Saints offense. Every time he touches the ball, there is still a chance that he breaks loose and scores. The fit may seem weird, but the Saints are only paying Peterson $3.5 million this year. Peterson is the 25th highest paid running back in the league. Trying to keep both Ingram and Peterson happy might be a difficult task, but the potential reward outweighs the risk.