Should Patriots Consider Signing Adrian Peterson In Free Agency?

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The Patriots need a running back, and Adrian Peterson reportedly would consider taking less money with New England. Done deal then, right? Start writing up the contract?

Slow down. It largely depends on how much less Peterson would be willing to take to join the Patriots.

As the Boston Herald’s Karen Guregian noted, the Patriots have shown an unwillingness to pay running backs more than $2 million per season. Peterson had a cap hit of $12 million last year, so it seems unlikely Peterson would be willing to take that deep of a discount, even to be coached by Bill Belichick and to play with Tom Brady.

Rotoworld.com projects Peterson’s future salary to be around $5 million to $7 million. Perhaps the Patriots and Peterson would be willing to meet halfway, but is he still worth it? Or could the Patriots either bring back LeGarrette Blount, sign another veteran or find a running back in the draft that would give them the same production for less money?

Peterson played just three games last season as he dealt with a torn meniscus and carried the ball 37 times for 72 yards, averaging 1.9 yards per carry. He caught three passes for 8 yards and fumbled.

He’s also 31 years old, and while he had a successful 2015 campaign, when he averaged 4.5 yards per carry with 11 touchdowns, his most recent play was not good — to put it mildly.

As ESPN’s Mike Reiss noted last week, the Patriots put an emphasis on pass protection for running backs, and that’s not an area of strength for Peterson.

If Peterson is willing to take less money to join the Patriots, it would be wise for him to expect a decent sum of his salary to be guaranteed. That might not be in the best interest of New England, however, as the Patriots probably would prefer to wait and see what Peterson has left in training camp before guaranteeing him a roster spot, especially if they’re also looking to bring in a running back via the draft. They’ve needed to get younger at the “big-back” position for years now. It would be shortsighted to depend on Peterson to carry the Patriots for 16 games next season.

It’s entirely possible Peterson has another year of elite production left in him, but it’s no guarantee. And while Peterson has higher name recognition than Blount or a back the Patriots could find in the draft, that might be his most attractive trait as he’s set to turn 32 years old later this month.

Should the Patriots consider signing Peterson? If he’s willing to compete for a job, which seems unlikely given his stature. If not, then it makes sense to search elsewhere to find a bellcow running back.

Thumbnail photo via Brace Hemmelgarn/USA TODAY Sports Images

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