On Monday the New England Patriots hosted free agent running back Adrian Peterson for a workout. This presents an interesting storyline for the Patriots for a number of reasons.
First is the question of whether Peterson still has enough left in the tank to be a productive back. He is 32 years old and coming off of a season that was shortened by a meniscus tear early in the season. He only played in three total games for the Vikings. This most likely contributed to Minnesota declining to pick up Peterson’s $18 million option. The question here is how well Peterson will be able to rebound after his injury. Running backs are usually plagued with the stereotype that there is a steep drop off after turning 30 due to the brutal realities of their position.
Peterson has the potential to defy that stereotype. In his age thirty season Peterson ran for nearly 1500 yards and 11 touchdowns, and averaged 4.5 yards per touch. Those are incredible numbers for any running back, never mind a back who is in the downward track of his career. The bigger issue for Peterson will be how well he recovers from his meniscus tear. In his only game back he was utterly ineffective. Personally, I find it hard to hold this against him, because it is difficult for any running back to come back from a major knee injury in just a few months and be back to 100%. The question will be whether or not the Patriots believe that last year was just a down year and Peterson can regain at least a semblance of the running back that he used to be.
The second major storyline in this situation is Peterson’s controversial past. In September of 2014, Peterson was indicted by a grand jury on charges of reckless or negligent injuries to a child. He would appeal this decision and eventually go on to be cleared of all charges, but he was suspended for nearly all of the 2014 season. In the aftermath of this scandal, as well as the Ray Rice situation, Patriots owner Robert Kraft was extremely outspoken about his disgust for domestic violence. Kraft has repeatedly made it clear over the years that, while he supports the idea of second chances, domestic violence crosses a very personal line for him. If he is still bothered by Peterson’s past, he may personally step in and prevent a deal from happening, whether Bill Belichick wants it or not.
There is also the situation with LeGarrette Blount. The Patriots leading rusher from last season remains unsigned, and there is still the potential for a return to the team. The workout with Peterson will most likely have an effect on whether the Patriots let Blount go for good, or make a stronger push to bring him back.
Adrian Peterson’s current situation fits right into the “Patriots mold”: he is a veteran player who is struggling to find a suitor and could use a one year “prove it” deal with a title contender. However, the Patriots have not shown any interest him him prior to the workout, which leads me to believe that they are not particularly inclined to signing him, and this visit might just be New England doing their due diligence. It also might not necessarily be what Peterson wants, considering he would need to take a significant pay cut and see his role reduced.
I don’t see Peterson landing in New England. While he would add a dynamic new layer to the Patriots’ offense, I just don’t see this as an ideal match for either side. The Patriots will most likely look to resign LeGarrette Blount and pick up another running back later on in the draft.
But then again, as long as Bill Belichick is calling the shots, who knows what’s going to happen.
Until next time- B$