It looks like it’s happening. Future Hall of Fame Running Back Adrian Peterson is set to come to New Orleans on a two-year deal. But the Saints already had a Pro Bowl RB on their roster in the form of incumbent Mark Ingram. What happens with Mark Ingram now?
Worrying about who the "starter" is between Ingram and Peterson misses the point. They both will have a huge role to play, and it's on Peterson to prove he needs to stay on the field. Ingram is a former first-round pick, but the six-year veteran has never had the kind of workhorse responsibilities Peterson handled in Minnesota. While Ingram has improved greatly on passing downs over the years, he's never played more than 542 snaps in a season. That should leave plenty of room for Peterson.
Sean Payton tried clarifying roles in saying:
[Adrian Peterson is] someone that certainly will complement Mark [Ingram]. Those guys are different in some ways and yet we feel like we've added another quality player.
Mark Ingram has publicly said all of the right things so far.
Ingram on a conference call with media. On @AdrianPeterson "I am all about winning, so if that's what helps us win - I am all for it"— New Orleans Saints (@Saints) April 25, 2017
But contrary to what Saints Head Coach Sean Payton has to say, Ingram and Peterson are not all that far off. Both are bruising Running Backs who are not known to be exceptional pass-catchers out of the backfield. The arrival of Peterson will almost certainly cut into Ingram’s share of touches, but what else could you expect him to say on the matter at this point?
For the Saints, having two slightly similar Running Backs is not necessarily a bad thing. Even if Peterson is never a starter, this means when Ingram needs a breather and Peterson’s number is called, opposing defenses can’t simply focus on the Drew Brees-led passing game.
When Travaris Cadet was in the backfield, you were fairly sure the Saints were going to pass the ball. With both Peterson and Ingram who are at least serviceable in the passing game, both players should actually be able to help ease the load on the other (Ingram had a career-high in yards last year and Peterson is perennially coming off injury).
So Sean Payton is right. Peterson might be a great complement to Ingram in 2017.