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How many of Adrian Peterson’s incentives will he actually hit?

Sep 11, 2016; Nashville, TN, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson (28) rushes against the Tennessee Titans during the first half at Nissan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

You have heard of “incentive-laden” contracts. Well Adrian Peterson’s agreement with the New Orleans Saints defines the term.

ESPN’s Ben Goessling reports the former Minnesota Vikings running back can earn up to $15.25 million if he hits all the marks in his deal. But what are the chances he actually reaches those goals? Well, let’s have a look…

Roster bonuses

Goessling writes:

“He has a weekly roster bonus that can be worth as much as $1.25 million in 2017, depending on how many games Peterson is on the active roster. 

Odds: A full slate of games would be surprising

After appearing in just three games in 2016, the biggest question surrounding Peterson is whether his body will hold up. At 32 years old, he has already bucked the age curve by about four years, so playing 16 games seems like a long shot, even if he’s playing in a reduced role.


Peterson’s marks are staggered, meaning he’ll get a bonus for hitting different yard goals. Here’s how it’s spread out:

750 yards = $150,000

1,000 yards = $250,000

1,250 yards = $750,000

1,500 yards = $1 million

Odds: Nothing above 1,000 is reasonable 

The surprising thing about Peterson signing in New Orleans is that they already have a terrific running back in Mark Ingram. He averaged 5.1 Yards Per Carry last season and caught 46 passes out of the backfield. They also drafted Tennessee’s athletically-gifted running back Alvin Kamara, who projects as a versatile player. That could leave Peterson with a very specified role as a grinder. New Orleans still has an unreliable defense and needs to improve a clock killing when they get up in games. Peterson may act as their closer. Going over 750 yards is realistic if he’s relatively healthy, but anything more than 1,000 yards is a stretch.


Peterson gets a raise by punching the ball in the end zone, too.

6 TDs = $250,000

8 TDs = $500,000

10 TDs = $750,000

Odds: Six is a good bet

When the Saints signed Peterson, they probably envisioned the 6-foot-1, 230-pound future Hall of Famer plowing through bodies into the end zone. With an offense that has an explosive passing game, New Orleans is a lock to put up points and get themselves in the red zone often. Six seems like a lock barring catastrophic injury and it would not be shocking if Peterson cleared 10 touchdowns.

Team performance

If Peterson gains 750 yards and plays in the wild-card or divisional game, he gets $250,000. If he gains over 750 and the Saints reach the conference title game, he receives $500,000. Over 750 yards and a Super Bowl win nets Peterson $1 million. And what a story that would be with the Super Bowl being held in Minnesota.

Odds: Playoffs are possible

So long as the Saints have Drew Brees under center, the Super Bowl doesn’t seem like a crazy notion. But the NFC South is a nightmare. Carolina is likely to bounce back, the Falcons should still be strong and Tampa Bay is expected to improve. It will be a tough road to the postseason for the Saints.


Goessling wrote:

“If he hits any of his incentives in 2017, his weekly roster bonuses in 2018 will go up by the same amount as his 2017 incentives. For example, if Peterson earns $750,000 in incentives this season, he’d be able to get up to $2 million in roster bonuses in 2018.”

Odds: Extreme long shot

Running backs rarely end on a good note. If Peterson has a strong 2017, he will certainly believe he can play another season (in fact, Peterson said he expects to play until he’s 40).  But it would be truly amazing if he were to continue being valuable through 2018.

  • Jeeves

    Interesting to see the breakdown. It’s also nice to see Ben write something of substance. I haven’t paid much attention to him since he picked the Vikings to go 8-8 again this year.

    • Matthew Coller

      Well, I wrote the article citing Ben’s reporting (and picked the Vikings to go 10-6 on the Purple Podcast, for whatever that’s worth)

  • Andre Esters

    I get the sense when Peterson, his agent, and the Saints front office were sitting around a table getting ready to sign this contract, his agent was likely smiling with accomplishment… “this many yards, this much $… this many TD’s, this much $… playoffs, conference, Super Bowl, big $$$ possibilities Mr.AD!”

    Expressionless, Peterson stares out the window and mumbles, “when do we play the Vikes?”

    • Mike Kano

      The same overconfidence that led Peterson to think he would be a marquee free agent would also make him want to face the Vikings. If his ability still matched his ego, he would still be a quality NFL player, not some scrub rejected by 31 NFL teams.

  • Chip Toof

    This seems like another one of those “hooda f cares” articles.

  • styx rogan

    luv two see AP put 300 on the Queens on Monday night

    • Chip Toof

      “luv two see” you go bye bye.

    • Finally.

      Get out of your parents basement now.

  • Mike Kano

    I am just happy the Vikings have a shot at Peterson on Monday Night Football, week 1.

    I want to see Fumblina cough up the ball a few times. I want to see him stare up into the sky, asking his imaginary god why he has been forsaken yet again. I want Fumblina to run the ball up the middle, and get a nice greeting from Linval, the way Linval hands out greetings to running backs.

    The perfect ending would be Peterson hauled off the field on a cart, never to disgrace an NFL field by his presence ever again.

    • Chip Toof

      Agree with all except that I hope it’s a taco cart.

  • Gordon Guffey

    Can we please just stop talking about someone ((( AP ))) who has played something like 17 games in the last 3 seasons like he is some kind f Greek God ~ All while costing the Vikings 30+ million over that time ~ That money could have been used better after he set out all but one game for beating his child among other things ~ I cant wait till he misses or get run over on a few blitzes and Brees
    starts raising heck at him on the sideline ~ Add in a few dropped passes
    and it should be a great night for all Viking fans who are team fans
    instead of player only fans ~

  • NorseBuckeye

    Holy haters Batman…I am a Vikings fan, but I still respect the crap out of a player who gave a lot to our team. Has the past three years been up and down yes…but what about the other 7 years…the fans that call him trash and wish injury on him are no real fans, they are idotic and should just stop watching football now…


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