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Peterson in Washington?

March 19, 2017
Could the Redskins be in the market still for a veteran running back? It’s not likely but they should be.

Why? Because they need an upgrade at the position from what they have, which is fine to what they need, which is very good.

Robert Kelley had an impressive rookie year with six rushing touchdowns (3 in one win against Green Bay) and a 4.2 average of 168 rushing attempts. He finished with 704 rushing yards, along with 12 receptions and a pass receiving touchdown.

In the Redskins final three games, Kelley only racked up 117 yards on 40 attempts for an average of 2.92 yards per attempt.  

Kelley is the “fine” part of the Redskins backfield. He’s not great. He’s unlikely to be much better than he was in 2016 in terms of style and effectiveness. He could certainly be better by the numbers, because he’s going to get more opportunities.

Matt Jones has potential still and the Redskins should not give up yet, but it’s going to be nearly impossible to trust him in any kind of big spot if you are Jay Gruden. They just don’t have a whole lot of margin for error.

It’s unknown if Jones is purely a Scot McCloughan ‘guy’ but if he really was (and that makes sense), he might not make it training camp before the Redskins go elsewhere.

Chris Thompson is a restricted free agent and was tendered a second-round pick offer at about $2.8 million so it’s very likely he will be back for at least one more year.

Mack Brown is unproven in the regular season for the most part, but has flashed enough in the preseason that he was the beneficiary of Jones’ fall from his perch. He contributes on special teams which helps his cause.

The Redskins need more than these four guys to take their offense to a new level.

They’ve already lost at the wide receiver position compared to the last few years with DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon both leaving town as quick as they could.  Who could really blame them?

Even if Terrelle Pryor takes a significant step forward on a one-year deal with a better quarterback than he had in Cleveland and even if Josh Doctson is healthy – you would have to think that the Redskins are going to be hard-pressed to throw for nearly 5,000 yards as was the case in 2016.

So what are we getting at here? The Redskins should make an aggressive bid to upgrade their backfield with Adrian Peterson.

Before you go “that’s insane” and “fake news” like so many of you Trump-ian worshippers are doing these days – this is an opinion! This is not a report. There’s a huge difference.

The Redskins running game (or lack there of) has hurt them in many games against the better defensive units and front-sevens in the NFL.

Go ahead. The Giants in the season-ending loss, the Panthers in back-to-back years, the Packers in the playoff loss to end the 2015-2016 season, the Cowboys pretty much every time they play them and they’re not even close to being elite.

The Redskins are quick to abandon the run game in these spots even though their passing offense is rarely crisp or effective in these games as well.

Why? Because they’re one-dimensional.

If you make a serious bid to bring in Adrian Peterson and he’s healthy ( a big if), he can help you.

Before you scoff at this  remember that Trent Williams and Peterson were college teammates at Oklahoma and are partners in a workout facility in Houston that they purchased last year.

The gym which was named “O Athletik” is a 35,000 square foot gym that the seven-time Pro Bowl running back and the Redskins stud left tackle decided to build.

So Williams and Peterson train together, they are business partners together and they were college teammates together, for one year. The one thing they haven’t been? NFL teammates together.

Wouldn’t that be interesting?

Peterson turns 32 on March 21, so that is a major concern. So is the injury he suffered last year in week two that cost him almost the entire 2016 season. He returned from a torn meniscus in his right knee on December 17 to play his last game for Minnesota.

Peterson obviously has a controversial past stemming from the child abuse charges that cost him nearly an entire season in 2014.

Of course, I don’t feel comfortable with what happened but the legal system and the NFL did punish him and when Peterson came back in 2015, he became the third player in history over the age of 30 to lead the NFL in rushing yards for a single-season.

He’s a three-time rushing champion (2008, 2012 and 2015) and was the 2012 NFL MVP. You may remember that he tore his ACL in late December of 2011 at FedExField for the Vikings and all he did the next year was win that MVP award.

Because of his suspension and because of the injury last year, Peterson has a little less mileage on the tires than your typical soon to be 32-year old back.

There are quite a few isolated examples of success with running backs over the age of 30 but based on research from SportingCharts.com, only a handful of 32-year old, one-thousand yard backs.

That’s OK. The Redskins do not need Peterson to be a thousand-yard back or to be the ultimate workhorse. They need him to be something they don’t have. A complete all-around back who has a nose for the end zone and finding a hole while hitting it.

ESPN.com recently did a report with analysis on where Peterson might wind up which ranged from Oakland to Green Bay and other spots. The Giants were listed and the Redskins were not.

I know it’s a longshot because there’s been no public connection and the Redskins are seemingly happy with what they have behind their offensive line.

They were happy last year too and completely ignored a back in free agency and the draft, just for good measure. That didn’t exactly work out well, did it?

Kelley was a nice find, undrafted out of Tulane, but he lacks great hands and certainly doesn’t have breakaway speed. I think he has good feet and seems to work with good vision but again, he’s limited.

Jay Gruden can get the inside scoop on Peterson from Mike Zimmer, the Vikings head coach and former coach with the Bengals during the same time Gruden was there.

Then there’s one other component on why this move would make some pretty good sense for the Skins. Who is the selling card to the fan base? It’s already a hostile and disgruntled customer group, so it’s very unlikely that Peterson being added would do anything negative.

The Redskins could do what they usually do and that’s find a huge star to help them sell hope and interest.

Would it work? I have no idea. Probably. Would it be interesting and fascinating? Of course. Would it make the Redskins better on paper? It’s hard to say that it wouldn’t.

Will they do it? Probably not because of Peterson’s age, injury history and possible contractual demands but if I could get a team-friendly structure on a one or two-year deal, I would do it and take a shot.

Think about it. 

Chris Russell has covered the Washington Redskins for eight seasons for multiple media outlets and was a part of the Redskins Radio Network broadcast team for five years. He covers the Redskins for Monumental Sports Network (www.DCHotRead.com) & Warpath Magazine. Listen to Chris on Washington D.C.'s # 1 sports radio station, 106.7 The FAN   


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