With Monday’s news that Adrian Peterson is visiting Gillette Stadium, fans of the Patriots seem to be clamoring for a move to take place and create a team about which every kid playing Madden would be ecstatic. However, there are also two questions that need to be answered anytime you are thinking about making a free agent signing. First question is if the move is worth doing, while the second is what, if any, downside does this move possess?
2017 Free Agency: Why Colin Kaepernick’s bad rap is undeserving
Patriots’ News: 2017 likely Butler’s last season in New England
Patriots’ News: Mixon Situation: What is too much for the Patriots?
Patriots’ News: Resetting the Patriots’ post-free agency needs
Before moving forward, one thing to note is this article will be strictly about his potential on-field performance, not any off-field problems which everyone is aware of with him.
Let’s dive in with the pros and cons of a New England signing Adrian Peterson.
Why Adrian Peterson would be a good signing:
Let’s face it, Adrian Peterson is one of the top backs in this era and is an absolute horse. Peterson has all the traits you want in a featured back in that he is elusive, can run through defenders, is big and most importantly can hit the hole running full speed and outrun the chasing defenders. Peterson also has the build of someone who would fit the power back on the Patriots perfectly. LeGarrette Blount was good in that role but he isn’t half the running back that Peterson is with Blount sometimes slow to hit the hole and often is too slow to evade defenders coming from behind to the make the tackle near the line of scrimmage.
Peterson also would be a fantastic fit especially considering the Patriots love to run power with a fullback to lead through the hole. In this scenario Peterson would have a very solid guard and tackle combo in Shaq Mason and Marcus Cannon as well as the top rated blocking fullback by Pro-Football Focus in James Develin hitting the hole before him. This would make stopping runs for short or negative gains nearly impossible without completely selling out on the run, which would then open up play action passes deep to Chris Hogan, Brandin Cooks or even an intermediate route up the seam.
Why Adrian Peterson would not be a good signing:
Despite how fun it would be to imagine Peterson in a Patriots’ uniform there are certainly things that should dissuade the Patriots from taking the plunge with him. First off, two things Belichick values more than anything else in power backs is durability and ability to hold on to the football and limit fumbles. Both of these categories are a huge concern. After missing just three games in his first four years in the league, Peterson has missed 34 games in the past six seasons, including playing just 34 of a possible 64 games in the past four years. Part of the problem may be due to the fact Peterson, is now 31-years old and has crossed the threshold where running backs tend to drop off dramatically.
Furthermore, fumbling is also a huge issue. Consider that in seasons where Peterson has played at least 12 games, he has just one season with less than four fumbles, including two seasons with seven fumbles and one with nine. There is no way Belichick would give Peterson that much rope when carrying the ball as Stevan Ridley can attest.
Lastly, anywhere Peterson goes, one would assume he would like to be a main feature in the offense in order to prove he still can be the work horse and star he believes he still is. That would prove a problem for Belichick and company because of the simple fact Belichick hasn’t devoted an offense around one back since the Corey Dillon days and it doesn’t appear he is ready to do that now, instead opting to leave the ball in his best player’s hands as often as possible in Tom Brady. Throw in the fact there are multiple star or high-level talents on the offense, the fact the Patriots have highly capable backs in James White and Dion Lewis, who both figure to have big roles in the passing game and lastly the fact Peterson has not proven to be adept in the passing game, neither blitz pickup nor receiving. In his career Peterson has just four seasons with 30 or more catches and just one in the past four years.
As one can figure from above, I have serious reservations about signing Adrian Peterson to be a role player in this offense. Peterson has a huge fumbling issue, isn’t durable and one would think he wouldn’t be thrilled with being a big part of the game plan some weeks and barely visible other weeks. I also have doubts about him potentially being over the hill but one cannot judge Peterson from last year’s film behind the Vikings porous and abysmal offensive line. Throw in the fact the Krafts are staunch opposers to any players linked to domestic abuse or in this case child abuse and the statements made by Jonathan Kraft after the Peterson news broke and this one seems destined to die even if Belichick deemed it worthy from a football perspective. However, I do not see it getting even that far as the Patriots would be far better off pursuing a back in the draft to groom considering they have no feature backs under contract after this season.