Saints, free-agent RB Adrian Peterson in negotiations

The embattled running back is "closing in on" signing a deal with the New Orleans Saints, according to NFL Network.

Peterson, whose career rushing yards rank second to Frank Gore among active players, has failed to eclipse 40 carries in two of the past three seasons because of suspension and injuries, but he led the National Football League with 1,485 rushing yards in 2015.

In the event the Patriots don't trade Butler, it also seems unlikely that the team won't pick in the first round for the second year in a row. A draft-day trade remains possible, though it would obviously require at least one of New Orleans' draft picks, and possibly multiple choices. LeGarrette Blount scored 18 TDs for the Patriots last season, but he remained overrated in power sets and averaged only 3.9 yards per carry. In addition, Ingram can still serve as an insurance policy alongside the oft-injured Peterson. In what came as a surprise to many, the Patriots traded their first round pick to the Saints in exchange for Cooks this offseason. Perhaps head coach Sean Payton wants to feature Peterson closer to the goal line, an area where Ingram has struggled in the past. They need depth after allowing veteran backup Tim Hightower to become a free agent. Hightower, in his 30-year-old season with much less wear than Peterson, contributed 548 yards at 4.1 per carry.

With the NFL Draft starting on Thursday, a lot of people believed the Saints would look at a running back with one of the two first-round picks.

While the Saints made a reportedly pricier lateral move, the Patriots got their easy upgrade over Blount.

Now, it's looking like the top suitor for Butler might not be willing to pony up the draft picks likely needed to pry the Super Bowl XLIX hero out of New England.

Although there's a risk of that happening with Butler, if the two sides can coexist for one more season, it could pay off for both sides.