Adrian Peterson may have finally found a new home through free agency – but for the sake of the New Orleans Saints, maybe its best he keeps looking.

Peterson and the Saints are believed to be closing in on a contract worth over $3 million for next season after the veteran running back received minimal interest through over six weeks of free agency.

The 32-year-old can likely still provide a decent contribution in the NFL as a downhill, between-the-tackle back who can take carries on first and second down.

The problem with Peterson joining the Saints is that they already have someone to be a downhill, between-the-tackle back who can take carries on first and second down – his name is Mark Ingram.


(Photo courtesy: Action Images)

Ingram has been the Saints traditional-style running back since 2011 and just last season had his first 1,000-yard rushing campaign.

The Saints already struggle to get their main backs as many touches as they desire because of their pass-happy style of offense and possession of Drew Brees at quarterback.

Ingram’s presence in the passing game has gotten better, but he’s likely never going to be the natural pass-catcher that would ideally fit the Saints offense. With career backups Travaris Cadet, Daniel Lasco, and Marcus Murphy behind Ingram on the depth chart, the Saints could stand to add a receiving back in the draft or free agency. However, receiving is the worst part of Peterson’s game.

There may not be a choppier receiver in the league than Peterson, who appears to forget how to football if the ball isn’t handed or pitched to him from the backfield. It’s kind of amazing he has been such a good rusher with so few receiving skills.

To give both Ingram and Peterson enough carries to get in a rhythm and be productive, the Saints would have to abandon the offensive style that’s led the league in yards two of the past three seasons.

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Since there’s little chance of that happening, why would the Saints bother to sign a player who fits a role they’ve already filled?

Get better any way possible.

With Brees approaching 40 years old and the window for another Super Bowl closing, the Saints are doing everything they can to get back to the promised land. That’s why they traded Brandin Cooks. That’s why they tried to acquire Malcolm Butler. That’s why they’re not worrying about a new Brees contract until next winter. It’s all about trying to win now and get better wherever they can.

Signing Peterson to a one-year contract that doesn’t put New Orleans cap in a bad spot fits the win-now mold, despite the total lack of need or fit. Ingram and Peterson present a similar skill set, but the younger back has never come close to the dominance Peterson has shown in his career.

By bringing in Peterson, the Saints would be sending a message to Ingram that he needs to compete for his role. The hope is that Peterson’s presence would bring a sense of motivation to the team and he may rip off a few of those classic highlight-reel runs.

It’s happened before in New Orleans and can happen again. When Brees and Sean Payton came to the Saints in 2006, the team and the city got a new sense of hope. Peterson won’t be able to give the same boost as he’s already past his prime, but the momentum he can bring can change the mood that has seen three straight 7-9 seasons.

The Saints are not in a position where they’re willing to hand over any starting job or amount of playing time to anyone without earning it, so by that measure, it shouldn’t matter if Peterson is too similar to Ingram. But New Orleans needs to make every roster spot count if they plan on getting out of 7-9 purgatory and they may be causing more problems than they’re solving if Peterson gets a deal.

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