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Redskins pick up 2020 option on RB Adrian Peterson

Age is but a number for Adrian Peterson.

The Washington Redskins picked up an important number -- one -- as in the option on Peterson's contract for 2020, the team announced Wednesday.

"Adrian Peterson is the epitome of what it means to be a pro in this league," Redskins coach Ron Rivera said in a statement from the team. "Adrian's leadership and passion towards the game of football will set an example of what is expected of the players in this program moving forward."

In a demonstration of how valuable the Redskins deem Peterson to be, Washington opted to take on the $3 million in cap space to keep the soon-to-be 35-year-old Peterson on its roster as opposed to saving $2.25 million by cutting ties with him. It's hard to blame them: Peterson has rushed for over 1,900 yards and 12 touchdowns in his two seasons with the Redskins, providing Washington with a steady backfield option amid a rash of injuries suffered by other younger running backs.

"Going into this season, there's so much more I can do and how I can help this team," Peterson told ESPN's John Keim. "My mentality is showing the Adrian Peterson of old and not just flashes; really showing, 'Wow, this cat is on a whole different level.'"

Rivera is looking to establish a winning culture within a franchise that has become all too accustomed to losing in the last two decades. Peterson, a 2019 team captain, can serve as an example of what is needed on a daily basis to win for a team that is young at most positions.

"I think it's different with guys of my stature," Peterson said. "When [teammates] see a 35-year-old running back at camp going 100 miles an hour with each rep, every rep, competing at the highest level and working to get yourself and teammates better, it's inspiring.

"That's not natural with a lot of guys and something I've been blessed with. It's all about sharing that and being an example and showing these young guys and vet guys what it takes to be great. Just seeing that mentality from a player of my stature helps out tremendously when you have a young team and you're trying to build that type of culture."

Peterson's 2020 season could bring some historical significance, too. The veteran is within shouting distance of fourth on the all-time rushing list, trailing Barry Sanders by 1,053 yards, and he trails Marcus Allen by 12 touchdowns for No. 3 in all-time rushing touchdowns. While he hasn't hit such marks in a season since 2015 (1,485 yards) and 2012 (12 touchdowns), he's at least come close to hitting the rushing total, finishing with 1,042 yards in 2018.

Peterson's first job in Washington won't be about breaking records, though -- it'll be about setting an expectation.

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