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Saints don't need vintage Adrian Peterson for deal to make sense

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Saints don't need a vintage AP to be effective (1:20)

ESPN Saints reporter Mike Triplett explains how a two-pronged running attack with Adrian Peterson and Mark Ingram could be a threat next season if Peterson signs with New Orleans. (1:20)

Adrian Peterson is 32 years old. He’s coming off of a knee injury that wrecked his 2016 season. And the New Orleans Saints already have a No. 1 running back in Mark Ingram.

But, heck yeah, it makes sense for them to sign Peterson if they’re getting the Hall of Famer at a discounted rate -- with the added bonus of a Texas-sized chip on his shoulder after being released by the Minnesota Vikings.

That Week 1 trip to Minnesota for Monday Night Football will sure get a lot more dramatic in a hurry if Peterson wraps up the deal with New Orleans, as anticipated.

Let's face it -- the entire Saints season will get a little more dramatic, with two all-time greats in Peterson and Drew Brees trying to make at least one more deep playoff run.

Don’t get me wrong, Peterson is clearly a huge question mark. He played just three games last season because of a torn meniscus suffered on Sept. 18 (and didn’t play all that well before the injury). Plus, even though he looked ageless when he led the NFL with 1,485 rushing yards in 2015, he is still now 32 -- not a friendly age to most running backs.

But, with a deal like this, the potential reward seems to outweigh any potential risk.

Ingram will probably be the No. 1 to Peterson’s 1A -- if not a 50-50 timeshare. Ingram is the stronger pass protector and pass catcher of the two, so he might play more on passing downs while Peterson plays mostly on run downs.

But if there is anyone who knows how to creatively use two running backs in a timeshare, it’s Sean Payton. That is likely one of the things drawing Peterson to New Orleans -- along with the proximity to his home in the Houston area and the chance to play with Brees.

Peterson will likely take on an even bigger role than veteran running back Tim Hightower had over the past two years, before the Saints let him get away to the San Francisco 49ers in free agency. But Hightower did have a substantial role, with a combined 1,252 yards from scrimmage and nine touchdowns over the past two years, including two 100-yard rushing games when Ingram was either injured or temporarily benched for a fumbling issue.

I thought it would be a no-brainer to re-sign Hightower this offseason. So why wouldn’t Peterson be the same if the Saints don’t have to make a hefty investment?

The biggest hesitation I have is that Payton himself has repeatedly lauded the depth of this year’s running back class in the middle rounds of the draft. And a rookie running back would make even more sense as a future replacement for Ingram. But, then again, signing Peterson to a one-year deal wouldn’t prevent the Saints from drafting a running back to develop for the future, as well.

I doubt Peterson's arrival will cause much friction in the running back room. Ingram has mostly handled timeshares well throughout his career (though his competitive fire has popped up a couple of notable times). He is highly respected as a teammate and has grown into a top locker room leader.

Peterson, on the other hand, might hate the idea of sharing the leading role with another back. But the past few months must have humbled him to the point where he knows what roles are available at this stage of his career.

And if that serves as added motivation -- all the better for the Saints.