After the Detroit Lions rushing attack failed to produce in their regular season opener, should the team attempt to trade for All-Pro running back Adrian Peterson.
The Detroit Lions opted to address their running game this offseason, not by signing or drafting an elite running back, but instead upgrading their offensive line. And that move seemed logical at the time.
After all, it was only two years ago that the Lions used a second round draft pick on Nebraska rusher Ameer Abdullah. But after a promising rookie campaign splitting carries with Joique Bell, Abdullah suffered a season-ending foot injury in Week Two of last year. In his third season in Detroit, the former Cornhusker should be ready to be the bell cow for the Motor City.
Unfortunately, Abdullah struggled in Detroit’s regular season home opener against the Arizona Cardinals, rushing for a mere 30 yards on 15 carries. Third-string backup Dwayne Washington fared much better, averaging 3.7 yards per attempt on his limited six carries.
So this poor performance begs the question: Did the Lions do enough this offseason to improve their rushing attack? So far, the answer is a no.
Moving the conversation south, also struggling in their debut were the New Orleans Saints. Possessing the three-headed rushing attack of backs Mark Ingram, Adrian Peterson and rookie Alvin Kamara – the Saints were unable to find success on the ground against the Minnesota Vikings. In fact, Peterson and New Orleans’ head coach Sean Payton appeared to be at odds with one another on the sidelines at one point.
Facing his old team, Peterson rushed for just 18 total yards on six carries in the 29-19 loss to Minnesota. The other Saints’ running backs fared no better with Ingram posting 17 rushing yards and Kamara with only 18.
Although the defeat shouldn’t be all that concerning, the fact Peterson is already causing friction in New Orleans should be. The 32-year old rusher signed a two-year, $7 million contract to join the Saints as a free agent back in April. The seven-time Pro Bowler is coming off a season in which a knee injury limited him to just three games.
Maybe the Lions and the Saints can help fix each other’s problems. Detroit is in need of an established rusher like Peterson who can power the ball between the tackles and won’t go down easily. And the Saints simply have too many running backs to feed.
So, should Detroit make a move for Peterson? Having faced him for several seasons as a member of the Vikings, their NFC North divisional foes, the Lions certainly know a lot about A.P. and what he brings to the table. And Peterson would undoubtedly love to stick it to his old team twice more this season.
In fact, the last time Peterson faced off against the Pride, he posted 98 rushing yards on 19 carries in Week Seven of the 2015 regular season. But the bulk of that yardage came on a 75-yard scamper.
There are several reasons not to trade for a player like Peterson. Most notably his injury history, high salary, past off-the-field issues and his limited shelf life. But you also have to admit that Peterson is a rare athlete who can likely still post a 1,000 yard season, even at 32 years of age.
I think the main question is: Does Peterson still have enough in the tank to be successful in the NFL? I believe that answer is yes. Remember, this is a former league MVP (2012) who rushed for 1,485 yards and 11 touchdowns less than two years ago.
It’s likely the Detroit Lions aren’t ready to give up on Ameer Abdullah quite yet. Maybe they’d prefer to run through their gambit of running backs before making a move like trading for Adrian Peterson. It seems logical. But so did doing nothing to address the position in the offseason. But the reality is, if the Lions’ rushing attack doesn’t find some consistent success soon, yet another year may be lost to the curse of Bobby Layne.