The Detroit Lions continue to pour resources into the running back position, with their latest move bringing one of the NFL’s all-time greats to town.
The Lions signed running back Adrian Peterson to a one-year deal Sunday, reuniting him with his former offensive coordinator with the Minnesota Vikings, Darrell Bevell.
The deal, which was first reported by former ESPN reporter Josina Anderson, is worth up to $2.3 million including incentives.
Peterson, 35, was released by Washington on Friday, ahead of Saturday’s cut to a 53-man roster.
The Lions kept five running backs on their initial roster – Kerryon Johnson, a second-round pick in 2018; D’Andre Swift, a second-rounder this year; Ty Johnson, a sixth-rounder in 2019; Bo Scarbrough; and fullback Jason Cabinda – but have injury concerns at the position with Kerryon Johnson, Swift and Scarbrough all missing time during training camp.
Peterson, taken five spots behind Calvin Johnson in the 2007 NFL draft, currently ranks fifth on the league’s all-time rushing list, 1,053 yards behind Lions great Barry Sanders.
He ran for 898 yards and five touchdowns in 15 games for Washington last season, and had a 1,000-yard season in 2018, but has mostly seen his numbers decline since he led the league in rushing in 2015.
Peterson missed most of the 2016 season with a knee injury, and played for two teams, the Arizona Cardinals and New Orleans Saints, in 2017.
He found his footing in Washington in 2018, when he signed late in training camp as a replacement for injured rookie Derrius Guice, but was deemed expendable under new coach Ron Rivera this summer.
The Lions finished 21st in the league in rushing last season at 103.1 yards per game. They drafted Swift in the second round to split time with Kerryon Johnson, who missed significant time each of the last two seasons with knee injuries.
Johnson and Swift were expected to split much of the backfield work this season, but Peterson is in line to take some of Johnson’s work. Swift, who missed nearly two weeks with a leg injury, returned to practice last week, after Bevell indicated he was playing catch-up because of the time he missed.
“It’s not ideal, we’ll say that,” Bevell said. “There’s a lot on these rookies’ plates right now just in terms of everything’s new for them. Obviously, he’s trying to pick up a whole new offense and we did not have the offseason. I think that’s what’s so critical and every day that we miss, I think it puts you further behind in terms of, not necessarily just knowing your assignment, but then it’s how your assignment fits to each and every one of the looks that you can get from the defense. It’s one thing to see them on paper, it’s one thing to see them on tape, but it’s another thing to go out there and actually execute what you’re supposed to execute, make the decisions that you’re supposed to make at a quick level, and he’s missing all those different reps.”
Peterson played his first four NFL seasons for Bevell, when he averaged 1,446 yards and 13 rushing touchdowns a season.
He’s expected to be in the lineup Sept. 13 when the Lions open the season against the Chicago Bears.
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