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Pasch Factor: Acquiring Adrian Peterson

Posted Oct 13, 2017

It's wait-and-see if veteran running back can make a big impact

The Arizona Cardinals needed an offensive spark, and General Manager Steve Keim went to work.

Keim acquired running back Adrian Peterson in a trade with the New Orleans Saints this week, bringing the potential future Hall of Famer to Arizona. Given the Cardinals struggles on the offensive line, it remains to be seen just how much Peterson will help the anemic run game. Plus, Peterson is 32, has had major injuries during his career, and was ineffective in limited playing time this season with the Saints.

At least the Cardinals are continuing to show they're not afraid to make moves to improve. Acquiring Peterson, who clearly wasn’t a fit in New Orleans system, won’t cost the Cardinals much of anything. If Peterson doesn't work out, at least the Cardinals gave it a shot.

The Cardinals’ interest in Peterson goes back more than 10 years. When Peterson came out of Oklahoma, some teams were concerned about his injury history. Running backs have a short shelf life, especially ones who’ve had a lot of carries in college, absorbed a lot of hits, and have an upright running style. Other teams saw a rare, freakishly talented, once-in-a-generation player. The Cardinals were one of those teams, and some in the organization wanted to select Peterson with the fifth overall pick in the 2007 draft.

But with a brand new coaching staff hired that offseason there were others that wanted to build an offensive line first. Those voices also noted that plenty of good running backs were drafted in later rounds, or found in free agency. The latter won out, and the Cardinals passed on Peterson, opting for Penn State tackle Levi Brown instead.

Peterson was selected seventh by the Minnesota Vikings, and went on to win rookie of the year in 2008, was voted to seven Pro Bowls, and named first team All-Pro four times. Peterson’s greatest feat, winning the 2012 NFL MVP award, came less than a year after tearing his ACL and MCL. Peterson even played part of that MVP year with a sports hernia, and waited until after the season to get surgery. Despite another major injury, Peterson rushed for almost 1,300 yards the next season. After an NFL suspension in 2014 and a knee injury that cost him 13 games in 2016, the Vikings released Peterson. The Saints signed him, but he got little work.

Does Peterson still have what it takes to help the Cardinals reach the playoffs this season? Is he past his prime, and on the downside of a great career? We will find out soon enough. If Peterson doesn’t help, it doesn’t mean it wasn’t worth the small risk. And, what if Peterson still has a ton left in the tank? If that’s the case, the Cardinals may have just found the player who could turn their season around.

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