New Orleans Saints

Saints, RB Adrian Peterson finalize two-year, $7M deal

(AP Photo/Ann Heisenfelt)

Adrian Peterson is heading to the Big Easy.

After spending the first 10 years of his career with the Minnesota Vikings, the veteran running back told ESPN’s Josina Anderson that he’s finalized a two-year deal with the New Orleans Saints that will pay him $7 million. The deal included $3.5 million guaranteed in 2017.

According to Anderson, the two-year deal that is effectively a one-year deal plus a one-year option. The 2017 compensation is $3.5 million (all guaranteed at signing), which includes a $1 million guaranteed salary in 2017 and a $2.5 million signing bonus.

The 2018 compensation is $3.5 million, none of which is guaranteed. It includes $2.4 million in total roster bonuses (which includes a $750,000 roster bonus earned on third day of free agency plus $1.65 million in per-game roster bonuses), a $1.05 million salary and a $50,000 workout bonus.

“We are excited to welcome Adrian to the New Orleans Saints,” coach Sean Payton said in a team statement. “It’s rare and unique to have the opportunity to add a Hall of Fame player to your roster. His career has been top-notch and speaks for itself. We think he will be an excellent fit in our locker room and in our offense. We look forward to the opportunity later this spring to work with him on the field along with the rest of our team.”

Peterson told Anderson he fully evaluated the Saints’ chances to compete this season and came out convinced he could contribute to a winner.

“I am excited to be joining the New Orleans Saints,” Peterson said. “I’m really looking forward to this opportunity. Most importantly, I chose this team because it just felt right within my spirit. Additionally, my wife and family added their confirmation with the same feelings.

“On offense, it goes without saying that the Saints are really solid behind Drew Brees. I feel like my skill set can make them even more dominant as a unit. They have a great offensive line, which is something that stood out to me as well. I could tell from talking to head coach Sean Payton over the last two weeks that he did his due diligence in evaluating how I could contribute. I also did a lot of homework on the defense as well. While I know that injuries have played a role in performance, I also see areas of potential with a lot of younger guys having the ability to step up. Lastly, it goes without saying that the Saints have an amazing fan base and I look forward to making them proud and creating everlasting memories.”

Peterson, who turned 32 last month, became a free agent when the Vikings decided not to pick up their $18 million option on him.

Prior to meeting with the Saints, Peterson also visited with the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks while looking for the right spot to continue his Hall of Fame career.

The Saints already have a No. 1 running back in Mark Ingram, who is 27 years old and under contract for two more years. But they were still in need of depth after veteran backup Tim Hightower signed a free-agent contract with the San Francisco 49ers.

Early indications are that Ingram will remain the starter with Peterson taking over Hightower’s role on early-down runs, third-and-shorts, and goal-line situations.

Peterson played just three games last season because of a torn meniscus suffered on Sept. 18. He returned 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. He finished the season with 72 yards on 37 carries.

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.

With the Saints, Peterson will get an chance to face his former team this season. The Saints visit the Vikings in Week 1 on Monday Night Football.

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