Would Peterson be a fit in the Patriots' offense?

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Adrian Peterson is reportedly scheduled to visit the New England Patriots on Monday, a development that reverberated around the NFL community. Peterson is both a polarizing and complex player to evaluate at this stage of his career, having turned 32 on March 21, and coming off an injury-truncated 2016 campaign.

Since becoming a free agent after the Minnesota Vikings declined an option on his contract in February, Peterson's been relatively inactive on the open market, fielding a meeting with the Seattle Seahawks, but no other suitors emerged.

Would Peterson fit into the Patriots' offense? It's an intricate question worth exploring for the reigning Super Bowl champions.

Peterson's limitations at this juncture have been discussed thoroughly during the offseason. For the duration of his career, Peterson's been an abysmal, inefficient pass blocker and cannot operate out of the shotgun, the latter flaw limiting his options during free agency. Peterson rushed for 72 yards on 37 carries last year, a staggeringly poor output, even if one were to dismiss the small sample size and his recovery from a meniscus injury.

It's become requisite for Patriots' running backs to evolve into strong receivers, with Bill Belichick and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels sprinkling them all over the field, sending them in motion, or using them as a safety valve for Tom Brady when all else fails. Super Bowl LI hero James White caught 60 passes for 551 yards and five touchdowns last year, while Dion Lewis was on pace for 82 receptions in 2015, before suffering a season-ending torn ACL. With the exception of LeGarrette Blount, Belichick has embodied the modern ideal of a running back, expecting his players to excel as receivers and blockers, while the Patriots present a multitude of looks during any given contest.

New England lacks a genuine power back, with Blount remaining unsigned despite rushing for an NFL-best 18 touchdowns in 2016. In this respect, Peterson could provide a reasonable facsimile of Blount's output and it's not difficult to imagine the Patriots using the seven-time Pro Bowler exclusively in short-yardage scenarios. Peterson was utilized as the Vikings' primary back since being drafted in 2007, but it's become a staple of the Patriots' identity to use multiple running backs, and if he accepts a lesser role, he could be presented with a chance to thrive on the leading Super Bowl contender.

It's possible Peterson balks at a reduced role, but nearing 2,500 career attempts, sustainability becomes a prominent concern, to say nothing of Belichick and his staff swiftly concluding a meeting if Peterson doesn't agree to their philosophy. If Peterson agrees to work in conjunction with White, Lewis, and Rex Burkhead, splitting carries with the former two backs, the 2017 Patriots may be the most dangerous returning champion in recent memory.

At this stage of his career, Peterson is the embodiment of a low-risk, high-reward option and if he's at his best, he could become the latest coup for Belichick and his staff. The rest of the league anxiously awaits what lies ahead in Foxborough on Monday.

Would Peterson be a fit in the Patriots' offense?
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