After missing the last two games for the Arizona Cardinals, the team announced they had placed Adrian Peterson on injured reserve with a neck injury, effectively ending his season and possibly his career. The Peterson Experiment was over. Four games into the 2017 season with the New Orleans Saints, Peterson was traded to the Cardinals. The trade involved the Cardinals sending a conditional sixth round pick to the Saints in exchange for the veteran running back. The move was made after three games of zero production by Arizona running backs after the loss of starter David Johnson.
Was it Worth it?
The Cardinals created space on their roster by releasing veteran running back Chris Johnson. Johnson was averaging 2.5 yards per carry through four games. Peterson averaged 3.5 yards per carry through his six games the Cardinals while rushing for a total of 448 yards on 129 carries. Peterson was hot and cold in Arizona as he had three games of more than 75 yards rushing and three games with less than 30 yards on the ground. The positive for the Cardinals was that in those three games where Peterson played well, Arizona was undefeated. Predictably they were winless in the other three games in which Peterson struggled. Considering what the Cardinals had at the time of the trade, the production they received from Peterson makes up for the cost of the move.
Impact for 2018?
Arizona will enter 2018 with a healthy David Johnson and a second year running back, Kerwynn Williams, who has shown some promise this season. Williams has filled in over the last two games as Peterson has recovered from a neck injury. During that time Williams has played well for a rookie and has given the front office something to think about for next season. The 2018 draft will also feature some talented running backs that will surely be available on the second and third days. With that amount of young and cheap talent, there doesn’t seem to be much room for a veteran running back who will be 33 years old by the start of the 2018 season, and who is due more than $3 million.
If 2017 was in fact the final season for Peterson then it has been quite a run. He had an amazing blend of size, power, and speed that has not been seen since the days of Bo Jackson. Like Jackson, injuries robbed Peterson of time during his best years, although the latter was able to come back and produce. Peterson is a future invitee to Canton, Ohio and will sit among the best players in the history of the NFL. It may not have been the ending he had hoped for, but endings rarely ever meet expectations. If Peterson returns in 2018 it will likely be as an aging veteran free agent. The Adrian Peterson experiment in 2017 for the Cardinals is over.
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