Adrian Peterson plans to sign a two-year deal that is effectively a one-year deal plus a one-year option with the New Orleans Saints, he told ESPN’s Josina Anderson on Tuesday morning.
Peterson told Anderson that the deal is worth a base total value of $7 million. Here are the terms Peterson says he has agreed to at this point: 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 maximum incentives package is $8.25 million and whatever incentives are reached in 2017 get added to the per-game roster bonuses in 2018.
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 the 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.
“I am excited to be joining the New Orleans Saints,” Peterson told Anderson. “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.”
News of Peterson potentially heading to New Orleans also was felt in Las Vegas, improving the Saints’ odds in several ways. The Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook moved New Orleans to 60-1 (from 80-1) to win Super Bowl LII and 30-1 (from 40-1) to win the NFC. The Saints also went from 4-point underdogs Week 1 at Minnesota to 3.5-point underdogs.
Peterson, who turned 32 last month, became a free agent when the Minnesota Vikings decided not to pick up their $18 million option on him.
If Peterson were to sign with the Saints, he would get an immediate chance to play against his former team. The Saints visit the Vikings in Week 1 as part of ESPN’s Monday Night Football doubleheader.
The Saints have a No. 1 running back in Mark Ingram, who is 27 years old and under contract for two more years. They need depth after allowing veteran backup Tim Hightower to become a free agent. He signed with the San Francisco 49ers last week.
At times, the Saints used Ingram and Hightower in a 1A/1B time-share. Hightower produced 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. Payton’s offensive creativity was likely a draw for him, as is 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 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.