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Barry Hirstius

Saints Were Right to Trade Peterson Since He Never “Fit” the Scheme

Sometimes in life, things don't always go like you plan them to. For the New Orleans Saints and Adrian Peterson, "the marriage made in Heaven" turned out to be a doomed relationship from the very start, since Peterson never really "fit" in the team's offensive scheme, to begin with.

It had became glaring obvious in the team's most recent game 2 weeks ago over in London, England; when head coach Sean Payton showed us what his plans for the offense and how the team's RB's will likely be utilized going forward, that Peterson would now be "the odd man out".

The argument for keeping Peterson up to this point before the trade to Arizona this morning for a conditional draft pick, was that he simply just hadn't gotten enough carries to show what he can still do at age 32.

(AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

That thought aside, an argument can be legitimately made that he seems to have "lost a step"; and it's the reason why he had a 3 yards per carry average in 4 games played (27 carries, 81 yards and zero TD's) during his time in a Saints uniform.

The reasons for the Saints to consider parting ways with Peterson were blatantly obvious: 

Peterson didn’t think he’d be regulated to being the "3rd wheel" in the Saints RB rotation; and while the Saints knew Alvin Kamara would be a special player, perhaps what they didn't realize was that he would end up being one of THE "biggest steals" of the entire 2017 NFL Draft a few months back.

You didn't to have to be a rocket scientist to have watched that win over the Dolphins over in London, England, to have seen how critically important that Kamara has become to the Saints offensive scheme.

Not only does Kamara fill the old role held by former Saints RB's Reggie Bush and Darren Sproles as the team's designated "scat back" catching passes out of the backfield, but he also is fully capable of being a lead / #1 RB if needed to.

It's been noted that head coach Sean Payton has had a "man crush" on Kamara since he saw him back at Tennessee's Pro Day back on March 31st of this year, prior to the 2017 NFL Draft. 

(AP Photo/Wade Payne)

It's the reason why the Saints traded a 2nd Round pick in next year's 2018 Draft to San Francisco; to move up in the 3rd round and select Kamara with the 67th overall pick.

And against Miami, we exactly WHY.

The sensational rookie "stole the show" for New Orleans, while Ingram and Peterson were essentially regulated to "spot duty" --- especially Peterson.

The original plan after the Saints signed Peterson back in late April (ironically right before they drafted Kamara) was to use him to provide a more-than-capable back-up to Ingram; and for him to fill the role that was held down by former back-up RB Tim Hightower --- who left the team in Free-Agency for the 49ers, but was later cut and is no longer in the League.

Once Kamara was drafted a few days later, then the plan was altered so that Brees wouldn't have to "shoulder the load" or burden of responsibility for the team's offense; by utilizing all 3 star RB's and placing more emphasis on the running game this year.

But 4 games into the 2017 season, it became blatantly obvious — in fact, it was so obvious that a blind man could see it from a mile away — that Kamara is the player that can directly impact games, in the very same way that a player like Peterson USED TO do.

Photo courtesy of Michael C. Hebert

"I haven't adjusted yet, but we're winning," Peterson told the media assembled around his locker after the game. "It's the system that they're used to. I just do my part, talking to Mark and AK when I see things they might have missed. I'm just trying to be that leader as of now."

When asked if he was frustrated somewhat about his small share of the Saints RB workload up to this point, Peterson said: "Without a doubt. (But) honestly, I really think things will work themselves out."

As it turns out, things have in fact worked themselves out — and now Peterson will get a true opportunity to be the #1 RB in Arizona, for a (2-3) Cardinals team in desperate need of a running game. The Cardinals are ranked DEAD LAST in the NFL in rushing offense.

Meanwhile, the Saints can now go about their business and focus on the task at hand, which is attempting to ride the momentum that they've gained in recent weeks, thanks to the addition of talented youth on both sides of the football.

This young Saints team doesn't need any more distractions, and Peterson — intentional or not — had become a distraction.

Photo courtesy of CBS Sports

In the end, the trade is good for everyone involved; and now Peterson becomes yet just another name added to the long list of veteran NFL players who have had great success with other franchises, who could never repeat that same success in New Orleans.

Best of luck, Adrian; and we'll be rooting for you -- except when ever you play against the Saints....


Big Easy Magazine contributing writer and Saints News Network columnist Barry Hirstius is a 51-year old semi-retired journalist, former New Orleans-area sports editor, and writer previously with several sites that exclusively cover the New Orleans Saints football team. Additionally, he is a recurring guest on a variety of local Sports Talk Radio programs. Barry is also a New Orleans native who grew up as a fan of the team while attending games as a young boy at the old Tulane Stadium in the early 1970’s, originally following and now covering the team for a span of over 40 plus years. And perhaps most importantly of all: he is the Grandfather of two beautiful young girls, Jasmine and Serenity.....

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