Adrian Peterson can help Redskins, but a deal could be tricky

Adrian Peterson rushed for 1,042 yards on 251 carries last season for Washington, including 119 yards in Week 16 in Tennessee. Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

The Washington Redskins would like running back Adrian Peterson back. Peterson would like to return.

Though a reunion would be good for each side, it's also a risk for both Peterson and the Redskins.

With running back Derrius Guice returning from a torn ACL -- he has posted numerous videos on social media showing his progress -- it's hard to know how much to pay Peterson and for how long. If Guice is healthy and looks like the same back the Redskins thought he was going to be last season, then Peterson's role will shrink.

But there's also the chance the Redskins would want to -- or have to -- limit Guice's role in the short term, allowing him to fully strengthen his knee without carrying the full load. Peterson's value then would increase.

The Redskins don't have a ton of salary-cap room and must be wise about how they allocate that space. If Peterson plays a lot, it is money well spent. Without him last season, the Redskins would never have been in the playoff hunt. He powered the offense.

The other option for Washington is drafting another back. Just in case. But Peterson is a known commodity; a rookie picked in the middle-to-late rounds is not. That's why the Redskins already have contacted Peterson.

If you're the Redskins, you want to give Peterson an incentive-laden deal, especially if it's for more than one year. If you're Peterson, it'll be hard to accept one if it's too loaded. What if Guice shows he can handle a full load this season? Peterson won't reach those incentives.

The other key for Peterson will be other teams getting involved in the bidding. Keep in mind, Carlos Hyde received $7 million in guaranteed money last offseason from Cleveland; he was eventually unseated by rookie Nick Chubb and traded to Jacksonville, where he was unproductive.

Peterson won't get that much in guarantees considering he turns 34 in March, but it's easy to see why he wouldn't want to be shortchanged. Look at the Tennessee game in Week 16: Peterson nearly powered the Redskins to an upset while running behind sixth-string guards. His numbers sank in the second half of the season; to blame that on Peterson would be ignoring the line situation, the inconsistency of the tight end blocking and the lack of a strong passing attack.

The Redskins would like him to stay in part to have a greater impact on Guice. After the season, there was talk of Guice possibly working out with Peterson in Houston -- where his workouts are known for their intensity. Guice also could learn from Peterson's approach on a daily basis at Redskins Park, seeing how he handles meetings -- his note-taking, for example, impressed the coaches. Teammates routinely praised Peterson for his humility.

This is what running backs coach Randy Jordan said late last season:

"Anytime you can learn from one of the best that's ever done it, it's always beneficial for a young guy to see how he works and prepares and sees the game, his competitive level. [But] you're talking about the growth and potential of Derrius. Are you slowing his growth down? I [went] back and looked at tape on him [from camp]. He's going to be really good. The biggest thing is he can learn from [Peterson], but you have to ask yourself where he's at in his rehab. How is he going to come back?

"I wouldn't feel too bad if they said, 'Coach, we're carrying [Peterson] and Derrius.' I'll be like, 'OK.' You wouldn't hear me saying, 'What are we doing?'"

Jordan also said Guice and Peterson are "alpha males." Though both have said they could coexist, they reached this stage in their careers because of their belief in themselves. Peterson aspires to climb the all-time rushing yardage chart; if he gains 794 yards next season, he'll reach fifth place. That matters to him. Winning a title does, too, though the Redskins certainly won't enter the season high on anyone's list to do so. Guice wants to prove himself as well.

When Peterson went to New Orleans two years ago, he did so knowing the Saints had Mark Ingram and it would cut into opportunities. He did not anticipate them drafting Alvin Kamara, and once he saw him in camp, Peterson said he knew he would get fewer chances.

Because of an unsettled quarterback situation, it's likely the Redskins will have to -- once again -- rely on the run game to power the offense. That means finding a solid starting left guard and a consistent blocking tight end. It also means making sure they're covered at running back. They got lucky last season with Peterson, a back to whom they turned when Orleans Darkwa and Jamaal Charles didn't impress them in a tryout.

Peterson can still help them. The question for both sides: At what price?