Free-agent running back Adrian Peterson and the New Orleans Saints are negotiating a contract, NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reports.
According to Rapoport, talks between the two sides progressed over the weekend and they are nearing a deal that would be worth more than $3 million for the 2017 season.
Peterson, who turned 32 last month, became a free agent when the Minnesota Vikings declined to pick up the $18 million option on him.
The Saints have a No. 1 running back in Mark Ingram, who is under contract for two more years. But they need depth after veteran backup Tim Hightower signed a free-agent contract with the San Francisco 49ers last week.
At times, the Saints used Ingram and Hightower in a 1A/1B timeshare – with Hightower producing 100-yard games in each of the past two years while Ingram was either injured or temporarily benched. Peterson could possibly take on an even bigger role. Coach Sean Payton’s offensive creativity was likely a draw for him – as well as the proximity to his hometown in the Houston area.
Peterson, the 2012 NFL MVP, spent his first 10 seasons with the Vikings and ranks 16th in NFL history with 11,747 rushing yards. He posted a message on social media last month insisting that his decision won’t be about money and that his main objective is “finding the best fit and helping a team in a major way win a championship.”
Peterson played just three games last season because of a torn meniscus suffered on Sept. 18. He carried 37 times for 72 yards last season, returning in less than three months from his injury to play against the Indianapolis Colts on Dec. 18. However, he sat out the Vikings’ final two games because of an adductor strain he suffered in his first game back.
Peterson, whose career rushing yards rank second to Frank Gore among active players, has failed to eclipse 40 carries in two of the past three seasons because of suspension and injuries, but he led the NFL with 1,485 rushing yards in 2015.
Since recovering from ACL reconstruction on his left knee to rush for 2,097 yards in 2012 and win the MVP, Peterson has defied the evidence that running backs wear down by age 30. He has long said he believes he can play deep into his 30s.