The Redskins have filled their hole at running back by signing Adrian Peterson. Unfortunately for Jay Gruden, it’s not 2012.
Any Redskins fans hoping for Adrian Peterson to ride into camp and save their running game are going to be sorely disappointing. The 33-year-old running back can absorb some carries in the nation’s capital, but he won’t be all that productive when he touches the ball.
There’s a reason the Cardinals were happy to let Peterson leave via free agency. Last season, he only managed to average 3.5 yards per carry on 129 rushes from scrimmage. Peterson might experience a slight uptick in Washington’s balanced offense, but seeing him break the four yards per carry average again would be a major surprise.
In fairness to the Redskins, their injury luck at the running back position has been pretty brutal. The team clearly planned to hand Derrius Guice the majority of their carries this year but a torn ACL in the preseason opener will cost him the 2018 season. Subsequent injuries to Samaje Perine, Byron Marshall and Martez Carter only compounded the team’s depth in the offensive backfield.
That put Washington on the market for a veteran to help carry their offensive load for one season. The team brought in Jamaal Charles and Orleans Darkwa as well, but they decided Peterson was the best veteran left on the open market. It’s possible the Redskins will make another move when final cuts occur, but for now, Peterson looks slated for a meaningful role in their offense.
Just because Peterson is now the biggest name in Washington’s running back stable, don’t expect him to necessarily get the most carries. The aforementioned Perine and Chris Thompson will likely get most of the work split between them. It’s possible Gruden and company will use Peterson as a battering ram in short yardage situations. That’s the role where he can be most effective at this stage of his career.
Peterson fans might want to pay close attention to him this season, because it’s very possible it will be his last year in the NFL. Don’t expect him to experience a career renaissance in Washington.