Patrick Peterson has been regarded as one of the best cornerbacks in the game since he was drafted fifth overall out of LSU in the 2011 draft. Including his rookie season, he was selected to eight straight Pro-Bowls to begin his career and was named a First-Team All-Pro three times over that span. However, his last Pro-Bowl nomination came in 2018, and it’s fair to say he’s well past his prime as he prepares to enter his age-31 season. With Peterson set to become an unrestricted free agent, the rumors suggest he and the Cardinals will be parting ways.
Per source, the Arizona Cardinals and former All-Pro cornerback Patrick Peterson are parting ways barring a significant change in stances.
Peterson, 30, has enjoyed eight Pro Bowl and three First-Team All-Pro campaigns since being selected No. 5 overall in the 2011 Draft.
— Matt Verderame (@MattVerderame) February 8, 2021
Before I go any further, I must say that Peterson admittedly denied this report, calling it a “dirty rumor” and stating that he and the team have not had any contract negotiations to this point. This from NFL.com:
“There is no real update,” Peterson said about his contract status or future during a taping of his podcast with former teammate Bryant McFadden, via the Cardinals’ official website. “It is just what you said it was: A dirty rumor. … Me and the team haven’t talked about contracts, we haven’t talked about parting ways. That’s just what it is, a dirty rumor. I don’t know where (the reporter) got his insight from, but that was a dirty rumor.”
Regardless, whether Arizona is interested in bringing Peterson back or not, he will become an unrestricted free-agent this March, and the Falcons will have every opportunity to court him to Atlanta.
There is no questioning Atlanta needs another cornerback to man the boundary opposite of A.J. Terrell. Isaiah Oliver looks better suited to play the nickel corner position or even safety, and Kendall Sheffield has proven to be a liability whenever he is on the field. Neither should be trusted to play outside heading into the season, which will force the Falcons to address the hole through the draft or free agency.
Peterson is a fun idea, considering all he’s already accomplished throughout his career. However, paying for past accolades often results in trouble for organizations. There is no questioning that his play has declined over the last several years. He finished 2020 with the second-worst PFF grade of his career (55.2) and only has one season with a PFF grade above 70 since 2016.
It’s not abnormal for cornerbacks to fall off once they turn 30. Darrelle Revis is one of the best cornerbacks of all-time but only played until he was 32, and he was not nearly as productive over those last couple of seasons. That is typical for the position, so whether Peterson recognizes it or not, he’s nearing the end of his career and should probably be looking for a new home where he can compete for a Super Bowl before he retires.
For that reason, and because of his declining play, Peterson to Atlanta doesn’t make much sense. He’s more of an option that a championship-ready roster adds, hoping he can be the last piece to the puzzle. We’ve seen teams like the Saints, Ravens, Bucs, and Chiefs make several of these types of moves over the last couple of seasons. Some have worked, and some haven’t. However, the difference between those teams and the Falcons is that they have the luxury to take those chances.
Atlanta has limited cap space and a roster littered with holes. Thomas Dimitroff attempted to do something similar by signing Todd Gurley to a one-year deal last offseason. It flopped miserably, and the $6 million the Falcons paid him undoubtedly could have helped elsewhere. Terry Fontenot is much better off signing a few under-the-radar cornerbacks for a couple of million and hoping one of them pops than spending the money it would take to bring in Peterson, who will likely not perform up to his contract.
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