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The 5 O’Clock Club: 2019 AD?

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It’s 5 o’clock somewhere…

NFL: Green Bay Packers at Washington Redskins Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

The 5 o’clock club is published Wednesday to Saturday during the season, and aims to provide a forum for reader-driven discussion at a time of day when there isn’t much NFL news being published. Feel free to introduce topics that interest you in the comments below.

Jay Gruden said that the Redskins signed Peterson because of the workout he did when he came to Redskins Park following the Derrius Guice injury. As I sat down to type this article, I went back and re-read the transcript from Gruden’s press conferences immediately after the Peterson signing. There’s a lot that I had forgotten.

The Redskins went out of their way to stress that Peterson had no guaranteed money and that he wasn’t guaranteed a roster spot. A reporter asked if AD’s chances of making the roster were more dependent on injuries or performance. Gruden’s answer: “A little bit of both probably. We’ll weigh everything out and his performance will also have a lot to do with it. What he does, not only Friday, but during the weeks of practice leading up to the games.” The point here is that, even on the day that Peterson was introduced to the press, no one was actually sure if he would have enough left to make the roster.

It wasn’t clear whether Peterson would be the starter or take a backup role behind either Rob Kelley or Samaje Perine. There were concerns about his age, his injury history, and his inconsistent production in 2017.

There were concerns about Peterson’s running style (everyone knows he is a power-I back who simply can’t run out of the shotgun, and that he runs best behind a fullback).

There were concerns about his workload, and whether he would wear down if he was given more than just a handful of carries per game.

A lot of reporters and analysts could barely suppress the snickers of derision at the thought that the Redskins had done it again — Snyder had gone out and signed an over-the-hill veteran with a marquee name on the back of his jersey.

All in all, there was a lot of healthy skepticism prior to the third preseason game when AD donned the burgundy and gold for the first time. Even after his 11 carries in that game, the sense of optimism about Peterson was guarded.

But after three games, Adrian Peterson is 5th in the NFL in yards per game. He has punched in 3 touchdowns. He has contributed in the passing game. He has run with power, shiftiness and explosive burst through the hole. He has looked increasingly comfortable with his role on the team and in Jay Gruden’s offense, and Jay has clearly adapted the offensive attack to suit Adrian.

With 236 rushing yards, 100 receiving yards and 3 touchdowns after three games, this is the pace that AD is setting if you do the math for a 16-game season:

  • 299 carries
  • 1,258 rushing yards
  • 26 receptions
  • 533 receiving yards
  • 16 TDs

I’d be shocked if he actually hit all those numbers, but none of them is impossible, with the rushing yardage total being the most likely to be achieved.

So here’s my question.

If 2018 continues to go well for Peterson, then what?

If he puts up 900 to 1,000 yards (or more) and scores more than a half dozen touchdowns while staying healthy and not wearing down late in the season...

If the Redskins put up a winning record, and — especially if the Redskins get to the playoffs and AD plays well...

then what?

Should Adrian Peterson play for the Redskins again next year?

If he does, how much should the team pay him? He’s playing for vet minimum at the moment, and he’ll be a year older. Should he play for the minimum and just be happy that the Redskins gave him an opportunity when no one else wanted him (a la Junior Galette)? Or should he be able to parlay his production into a more lucrative contract, as Vernon Davis did with the Redskins?

With Derrius Guice due back next off-season, what role should AD have on the team if he is resigned? Should the starting job belong to Peterson? Should it belong to Guice? Should Gruden hold an open competition?

Would a Peterson/Guice combination be good or bad for the Redskins? A wolf pack can only have one leader. Would Guice’s development as a runner and as a locker room leader be stunted by having the future Hall of Famer in the same room with him from week to week, or would it be an invaluable opportunity for the young man to learn from a man who came back from his own ACL injury and led the league in rushing the following year?

Could Peterson handle being a backup? He didn’t seem to accept it well in New Orleans. Guice is clearly the Redskins future at the running back position, but would the team owe some loyalty to Peterson if, after coming in as a bit of an aging dark horse, he helped the team to a division championship and a spot in the playoffs? Would Peterson owe any loyalty to Gruden and the Skins for taking a chance on him when no other team was interested?

In short, should Adrian Peterson, Redskins starting running back, future hall of famer, Trent Williams’ business partner, and 34-year-old running back be re-signed to play with the Redskins in 2019? If so, would you try to extend him during the season while he may still be willing to sign a team-friendly deal, or is it better to wait until the normal free agent frenzy period next March to try to get him back?

Or — would it be better just to let him walk, hope he signs a studly contract with another team and earn a compensatory pick for letting him walk after just one season of bailing the team out of a deep hole. Would any other team even want him?

Peterson, who signed a one-year, veteran minimum $1.015 million contract with Washington on Aug. 20, is currently fifth in the NFL with 236 rushing yards — just behind Los Angeles Rams star Todd Gurley — and has three rushing touchdowns in three games with the Redskins (2-1).

New York Giants rookie running back Saquon Barkley (216) is sixth in rushing yards and Pittsburgh’s burgeoning star James Conner (who is starting in the absence of Le’Veon Bell) is seventh with 213.

So far, Peterson has looked like the “AP” of old: A dynamic playmaker who still possesses the physicality, grace and cut-back ability that once made him the best at his position. And even he can’t help but think there are some NFL teams who now realize they should have called him this offseason.

Peterson said Monday that he was “cool with” playing behind 26-year-old David Johnson, whom he called “a heck of a running back. … But I don’t see why you wouldn’t keep me around to complement him, if that’s what you want to go with.”

Everyone wants to know if Peterson can be “All Day” all year.

“Before I got signed, it was a different narrative. Oh, he should retire. Oh, he’s washed up. Right?” Peterson said with a laugh over the phone. “If it’s not one thing, it’s another. They see I’m still playing at a high level, now it’s, ‘OK, let’s see how long he can do it.’

“They give themselves a window if something happens, like, ‘Well, see, I told you! This was going to happen! He was going to get hurt!’ It’s sad. It’s sad to me.”

He credits his strict training and organic diet for his overall health, but his gains on the field are a direct result of having “a different mindset,” he said.

“Your body can do some incredible feats, but only if you allow your mind to take you there,” said Peterson, who highlighted late martial artist and movie star Bruce Lee, Indianapolis Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri, 45, and Miami Dolphins running back Frank Gore, 35, as prime examples.“Seeing these people is just confirmation that I’m on the right track.”

Poll

What should happen with Derrius Guice next year?

This poll is closed

  • 3%
    Start him on PUP and keep him there as long as possible as ‘insurance’
    (14 votes)
  • 19%
    He should automatically be the #1 back on the roster
    (73 votes)
  • 66%
    He should have to compete and earn his role among the running backs
    (250 votes)
  • 10%
    He should back up AP
    (39 votes)
376 votes total Vote Now

Poll

What should happen with Adrian Peterson next year?

This poll is closed

  • 11%
    He should be allowed to walk in free agency — let’s get that comp pick!
    (40 votes)
  • 11%
    He should automatically be the #1 back on the roster
    (42 votes)
  • 66%
    He should have to compete and earn his role among the running backs
    (235 votes)
  • 10%
    He should back up Derrius Guice
    (39 votes)
356 votes total Vote Now