Cardinals deal for Adrian Peterson in bid to bolster sputtering ground game

PHOENIX — The Arizona Cardinals, with the worst rushing game in the NFL, have acquired running back Adrian Peterson from the New Orleans Saints in exchange for an undisclosed 2018 draft pick.

The 32-year-old Peterson has rushed for 11,828 yards and 97 touchdowns in his 10-plus pro seasons. The four-time All-Pro and seven-time Pro Bowl selection signed a two-year contract with the Saints during the offseason after spending his first 10 NFL seasons with the Minnesota Vikings.

“We are always on the lookout for opportunities to improve our team and we look at this as one of those opportunities,” Cardinals general manager Steve Keim said in a news release announcing the trade. “What Adrian has accomplished in this league is well-established. Our needs for a spark in our running game right now is also obvious and we are excited to give him the chance to provide that.”

Peterson has played sparingly with little success for New Orleans. He’s gained 81 yards in 27 carries, an average of three yards per attempt with a long run of 11.

With an offensive line that wasn’t all that strong to begin with now riddled by injuries, the Cardinals (2-3) are averaging a league-worst 51.8 yards per game and 2.6 yards per carry.

To make room for Peterson, Arizona released running back Chris Johnson.

Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, who grew up in Minnesota and still has a home there, is a good friend of Peterson. Fitzgerald sent out a tweet with an animated photo of a boy dancing happily under the heading “My mood this morning.”

Cornerback Patrick Peterson tweeted “Today is a good day!!! Welcome to the #BirdGang @Adrian Peterson!!! We got work to do.”

Arizona’s players had Tuesday off and the team said Adrian Peterson would be at practice on Wednesday. The Cardinals were blown out at Philadelphia 34-7 last Sunday in one of coach Bruce Arians’ worst losses in five seasons in Arizona. They are home against Tampa Bay this weekend,

The Cardinals undoubtedly are under no illusions that Adrian Peterson is the running back he was in his prime. But Keim figures he’s an improvement over what they had before.

Arizona lost one of the game’s best backs, David Johnson, in the season opener. Johnson, a first-team All-Pro at the flex position and second-team at running back last season, is out for at least another month while recovering from surgery to repair a fractured wrist.

The other running backs on the team are Andre Ellington, Kerwynn Williams and Elijhaa Penny.

The Cardinals had a chance to draft Peterson in 2007 but chose offensive lineman Levi Brown with the fifth pick overall, instead. The Vikings selected Peterson two picks later.

Peterson missed all but one game in 2014 because of an alleged case of child abuse in which he pleaded guilty

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