ASHBURN, Va. — There’s all sorts of reasons for Washington Redskins running back Adrian Peterson to want to surpass 1,000 yards rushing once again. It would further etch his name in history. It would prove what he can still do on the field as he approaches 35 years old.
And it would also allow him to make another half-million dollars.
With Derrius Guice sidelined because of another knee injury, the Redskins will lean even more on Peterson, which could be good for his pocketbook. If he rushes for 1,000 yards this season, Peterson will collect a $500,000 bonus. He needs 282 yards with three games remaining.
“It’ll happen,” he said.
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Peterson rushed for 1,072 yards last season at age 33 — making him the oldest player since John Riggins cracked that mark in 1984 at age 35. But there was no bonus for Peterson last season. Instead, it earned him another two-year deal with Washington. And this season has fueled his desire to stick around a while.
His future will be determined, in part, by Washington’s next coach. Regardless, Peterson remains motivated.
“I’m going to keep going,” said Peterson, whose base salary is $1.03 million. “My body is feeling good. I’m still loving the game. Obviously I can still play and perform at a high level. Why walk away from it now? So, I’m going to keep going.”
Interim coach Bill Callahan said: “If you talk with him, he’ll play until he’s 40 years old. As long as he keeps producing, I don’t see why he can’t continue to play.”
Peterson, whose base salary is $2.25 million next season, signed a deal worth up to $8 million last offseason, loaded with incentives. But the most lucrative was rushing for 1,000 yards, which would be hard to do with a healthy Guice. But Guice tore his meniscus in the season opener, paving the way for Peterson to resume his role as a No. 1 back.
When Guice returned in Week 11, he and Peterson split the work. That could have ended his pursuit for 1,000 yards, but Peterson has another shot. His line let him know they wanted him to hit 1,000.
“Those guys up front were talking about it, ‘282.’ I heard another guy say, ‘282.’ I said, OK and I put it together,” Peterson said. “They definitely want me to get there, so it’ll happen.”
They also have taken notice of the potential payoff.
“That’s another reason,” center Chase Roullier said. “You’re always trying to help your teammates out with that, too.”
Peterson likely will need one big game. In the eight games under Callahan, Washington ranks 10th in rushing yards per game and fourth in yards per carry. And in the six games under Callahan in which Peterson has received at least 13 carries, he’s averaged 93 yards per game. That would leave him just short.
The hard part will be getting a lot of yards against the Eagles, though the Redskins do have confidence it can happen. Recent history doesn’t favor them: In the past five games against Philadelphia, all losses, the Redskins have averaged just 58.4 rushing yards per game. Peterson had a 90-yard touchdown run against the Eagles last season, but gained just eight yards on his other 12 carries against them.
He was inactive against them in Week 1, despite being healthy.
Regardless, barring injury he’ll soon move up the NFL’s all-time rushing list. He trails Curtis Martin by 65 yards for fifth place. It would take another season of 1,000 yards for him to move into fourth or possibly third.
“The ageless one,” Eagles coach Doug Pederson said. “Just the way he prepares. I think that’s one of the things that has kept Adrian on the field and kept him plugged in. As much as they’ve tried to maybe go with other players, he keeps coming right back.”
It’s why he topped 1,000 yards last season despite a banged-up line that featured at least 35 different combinations during the season. And it’s why he’s done it in 2019 while playing with a passing game that ranks last in passing yards with rookies at quarterback (Dwayne Haskins) and at the starting receivers (Terry McLaurin, Steven Sims and Kelvin Harmon).
“It’s the mentality I have,” Peterson said. “I’ve had it my entire career.”