The team announced the deal Monday after meeting with Peterson. They lost rookie Derrius Guice to a season-ending torn ACL in the preseason opener.
Peterson, 33, joins his fourth team as he enters what would be his 12th National Football League season. Peterson is not guaranteed the starting job with Washington and will likely share responsibilities with Rob Kelley and third-down back Chris Thompson.
Peterson ranks 12th on the NFL's all-time rushing list with 12,276 yards.
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The Burgundy and Gold have been seeking running back help after already having three running backs go down with injuries this preseason.
Peterson was placed on injured reserve for the remainder of the season after suffering a neck injury against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 12.
Peterson began last season with New Orleans but the Saints traded him to the Arizona Cardinals on October 10 after Peterson struggled to find carries in a backfield that included Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram. "We've had very unlucky situations with our running backs".
In two games vs. the Eagles last season, the Redskins rushed for 139 total yards, averaging four total yards per rush.
Charles was a two-time first-team All-Pro selection in nine seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs, but he played sparingly last season with the Denver Broncos. They open the 2018 season against the Arizona Cardinals on September 9.