The Chicago Bears may have interest in Adrian Peterson, but they should just keep the younger version they already have.
After looking like a 30-plus year old running back over the previous two seasons, Adrian Peterson had a resurgent season for the Washington Redskins last year (251 carries for 1,042 yards and seven touchdowns). He’s set to hit the open market again, entering his age-34 season, and Mike Garofolo of NFL Network has tabbed the Chicago Bears as a team to watch if Peterson doesn’t re-sign with Washington.
For the second straight offseason, trade rumors are surfacing around Bears running back Jordan Howard. He had nine touchdowns on the ground last season, but he averaged just 3.7 yards per carry and his lack of production as a pass catcher (20 receptions for 145 yards) makes him a strained fit in head coach Matt Nagy’s offense.
Peterson’s first NFL head coach, for nearly four seasons, was Brad Childress. After a very late resignation as head coach of the Atlanta Legends in the AAF, Childress is set to become an assistant/consultant on Nagy’s staff in Chicago.
Nagy has become one of the top offensive minds in the NFL, so he doesn’t appear to need a ton of help. Anyone who remembers Childress’ stagnant offenses as Minnesota Vikings head coach should shudder at the idea of him having any part of Nagy’s ear.
Shifting back to the running back situation, if Howard’s lack of pass catching prowess seems familiar it should. Peterson was once one of the NFL’s best running backs, but an inability to pass block keeps him off the field in passing situations and he hasn’t topped 30 catches in a season since 2012, when he had 40. His career-high for catches is a Brett Favre-driven 43 in 2009.
Howard is entering the final year of his rookie contract, and the Bears could cut him with minimal impact on their cap. Peterson will not get more than a one-year deal in free agency, so the Bears would be taking on the same level of commitment. But Howard is set to make just over $2 million in base salary this year, while Peterson would probably consider an offer in that range to be an insult.
Peterson will turn 34 on March 21, while Howard won’t turn 25 until the middle of the 2019 season (Nov. 2). Unless a team comes in with an aggressive trade offer for Howard that can’t be turned away from, the better plan for the Bears would be to stick with the younger version of the same player and let Peterson try to make a push up the all-time rushing list for another team.