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ESPN’s Barnwell views Peterson trade as low-risk move for Cardinals

(AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

The Arizona Cardinals are taking a shot in the dark to fix their offensive rushing woes.

The Cardinals have the worst running attack in the league averaging only 51.8 yards per game on the ground. On Tuesday, the concern was addressed.

The team traded a 2018 conditional sixth-round pick to the New Orleans Saints for running back and 2013 MVP Adrian Peterson. Granted, the Cardinals will not be getting that MVP-caliber player of years past, but it could be a short-lived fix for the running game.

ESPN’s Bill Barnwell characterized the deal as a low-risk desperation move for the Cardinals that filled a hole on the team.

The Cardinals obviously have a need for a primary running back after David Johnson dislocated his wrist in the season opener. The trade for Peterson might suggest that Arizona isn’t optimistic about Johnson’s chances of returning this season, despite the fact that Johnson is eligible to return from injured reserve in mid-November. Coach Bruce Arians has suggested the Cardinals are hoping to get Johnson back in the lineup by Christmas, which would be good for only the final two games of the season.

The Cardinals have the oldest group of 22 starters in the league, and before heading into this season they already had eight starters over the age of 30. Peterson is 32.

Arizona made the move being behind two 3-2 teams in their division with the Seattle Seahawks and Los Angeles Rams. In addition, the remaining 11 games feature only four teams below .500 and four games against those two division foes.

Despite all of that, Barnwell believes the team is not ready to mail in the season.

The trade for Peterson suggests the Cardinals aren’t giving up, which shouldn’t be a surprise. This is a veteran team built to try to win during the final moments in the careers of arguably the three most important people in the organization. Larry Fitzgerald is a free agent after the season and reports have suggested 2017 will be his last year. Palmer turns 38 in December and will consider his future after this season. The 65-year-old Arians fought kidney cancer last year. The Cardinals are staring down a rebuild that might be only months away from beginning. They can’t afford to treat this like a lost season.

Through the first five weeks of the season, it has already looked that way for the Cardinals, starting 2-3 and only registering two wins in overtime efforts to losing teams. Arizona lost its most vital player on offense in running back David Johnson and have been dealt a couple key losses in pass-rushing linebacker Markus Golden and offensive guard Mike Iupati.

After an embarrassing 34-7 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday, the Cardinals knew they had to shake things up and provide a spark.

Barnwell agrees with the decision.

Paying a little more than $700,000 and giving up a late pick for a player whose upside might still be as a league-average starting running back isn’t much at all. Peterson might be able to both improve the Arizona running game and spark a Cardinals play-action passing attack that ranks 29th in passer rating through five weeks. Desperate teams have taken far more desperate and damaging measures than the Cardinals did Tuesday.

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