Who says Adrian Peterson won’t open the 2017 season at U.S. Bank Stadium on Monday Night Football?
The former Vikings great very well could be there. As a member of the New Orleans Saints.
According to NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport, Peterson and the Saints are closing in on a one-year, $3 million deal for what would be Peterson’s 11th NFL season and the first outside of Minnesota.
The seventh overall pick of the Vikings 10 years ago, Peterson has racked up seven Pro Bowls, four first-team All-Pro honors, three rushing titles and the 2012 league MVP, when he rushed for 2,097 yards, the second-most in NFL history.
But he turned 32 last month. Combine that with last year’s injury-ruined season and a contract that called for him to make $18 million, and, well, the Vikings decided to move on and released him. They went younger, signing Raiders free agent Latavius Murray.
Peterson has rushed for 11,747 yards to rank 16th in NFL history. He’s 565 from passing Jim Brown for 10th place. But he also played only three games last season because of knee and groin injuries.
With the Saints, Peterson would be joining a passing team featuring Drew Brees and a running back group that shares the team’s limited number of carries. Peterson would join running back Mark Ingram, who posted his first 1,000-yard season and a career-high 10 touchdowns a year ago.
Peterson played only one game in 2014, spending the last 15 essentially in exile as he dealt with the fallout from child-abuse charges. He returned in 2015 and led the league in rushing with 1,485 yards, becoming only the third player to lead the league in rushing at 30 years or older. Last year, he averaged just 1.9 yards on 37 carries.
Peterson’s limitations in the passing game were well known in Minnesota. His struggles with fumbling the ball also was an issue that went further back than his lost fumble late in the playoff loss to Seattle following the 2015 season.
Saints fans will remember a certain NFC title game that sent their team to a Super Bowl title during the 2009 season. In that NFC title game, which the Saints won in overtime, the Vikings outplayed New Orleans in all facets except turnovers. They turned the ball over five times and were minus-4 in turnover ratio.
The Vikings fumbled the ball six times, losing three fumbles. Peterson ran for 125 yards and three touchdowns, but fumbled twice. Another lost fumble, which was credited to quarterback Brett Favre, came during a handoff exchange with Peterson.
Vikings fans won’t have to wait long to see how motivated Peterson is to prove everybody wrong, just like he did in 2012 when he topped 2,000 yards just months after tearing his left ACL in a gruesome injury at Washington on Christmas Eve.
The Saints will be paying a visit on Sept. 11. And it appears they’ll be bringing a very familiar face.