Adrian Peterson's time in New Orleans will be nothing more than a small footnote in his career.
All the hype and expectations amounted to nothing more than a few months of headlines, speculation and confusion over his fit on the team. That has come to an end with the running back being traded to the Arizona Cardinals on Tuesday in exchange for a conditional sixth-round draft pick.
New Orleans signed Peterson to a two-year deal with $3.25 million guaranteed. The Saints will have a $1.25 million salary-cap charge for his signing bonus in 2018. In the end, the team essentially bought a draft pick.
That's a hefty price to spend for 81 yards rushing in four games and a late-round pick, but it does little harm. This one only stands out because Peterson's name lit up the transaction wire like the purple lights on the Superdome on a dark night.
You can look at Peterson's departure as another miss or as an acknowledgement the Saints were right to trade up to select Alvin Kamara and refuse to let anything to get in the way of his development. There are only so many carries to go around, and Kamara, who has gained 230 yards from scrimmage, deserves a good portion of them. Any touch Peterson received was coming out of someone's cut, and it's been clear Kamara and Mark Ingram (170 yards on rushing on 42 carries) deserve the whole pie.
It only took a couple of games to see Peterson didn't have a fit in the Saints offense. When he was initially signed, the idea was he would serve as a complementary piece to Ingram. Then Kamara slipped in the draft, and the Saints jumped on an opportunity. The gamble paid off, but it came at the expense of Peterson.
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Perhaps the writing was on the wall when, last week, coach Sean Payton explained the difference between how the NFL and NBA offseasons work when discussing the backfield. It was also mentioned on last week's broadcast that the Saints prefer to operate with just two running backs in the game plan.
Photos: Best images from Adrian Peterson's short stint with New Orleans Saints
Adrian Peterson was only with the New Orleans Saints for four regular season games, but he never stayed far from the headlines before his trade to the Arizona Cardinals. Here are some of the best images of Peterson during his short stint in New Orleans.
"It was put into plan in the beginning, and the difference between us and the NBA is that the NBA has a draft and then they follow it up with free agency and sign what they can’t draft," Payton said. "In our business, we have free agency first and then the draft. So I think it is a good group of running backs."
So, maybe New Orleans never would have signed Peterson if it had known Kamara would be there. Either way, it doesn't matter. It was a relatively low-cost exploration that could have had upside if it worked out differently.
It didn't, and maybe it was doomed from the start.
One of the things Peterson said attracted him to New Orleans was having better opportunities to run the ball and to see better looks since the offense is more passing-oriented. However, he had never shared carries before, and he struggled with the adjustment.
After a season-opening loss to the Minnesota Vikings, Peterson said he understood his role but didn't sign up for "nine snaps." After a recent game against the Miami Dolphins, he said he still hadn't settled into his role but noted he was happy the team was winning games.
And even when he received the opportunity to run with three receivers on the field, which cleared out the box and should have given Peterson more running lanes than what he was used to seeing in Minnesota, he still struggled to make it count. He had 12 runs out of those looks during the first four games and gained only 26 yards.
The silver lining here is that having Kamara and Ingram on the field will take away any tells based on which running back is in the game. Of Peterson's 44 snaps, 28 were runs. Only 15 of Kamara's 91 snaps and 42 of Ingram's 137 have been running plays.
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Saints running backs coach Joel Thomas recently said he "100 percent" believes Peterson still has it. That remains to be seen. The veteran running back had small moments through camp, but it was never sustained and did not show up in games. However, given that he's a volume runner, it remains possible that he simply did not fit into the Saints' timeshare and could perform better elsewhere.
Ingram and Kamara should continue to receive the bulk of the carries, with Kamara serving as a dual threat in both the running and passing games. Removing Peterson should clear up the jam and allow both players to become more involved in the offense.
The only possible hindrance to parting ways with Peterson would be if Ingram suffers an injury. Kamara should be fine carrying the load, and the team likes what it has in undrafted rookie Trey Edmunds. New Orleans also could look to add another veteran back to serve as depth or add Daniel Lasco back to the 53-man roster.
The light's still shining; it's just now focusing on the rookie instead of the veteran. That's probably good news for the Saints.