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Should Tampa Bay Make A Play For Patrick Peterson?

Timing is everything.

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NFL: Detroit Lions at Arizona Cardinals
Peterson would instantly upgrade Tampa Bay’s secondary.
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Here we are again. More trade talk for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

But this time, it’s not about Gerald McCoy, Jason Pierre-Paul, Cameron Brate - or any other name that may have surfaced over the past few months.

This actually isn’t about any player on the Bucs roster at all.

This is about Patrick Peterson.

The news dropped today that Peterson will be serving a six-game suspension after violating the NFL’s PED policy. It marked the talented corner’s first suspension for such a violation in his eight-year career.

But what turned out to be bad news for the Arizona Cardinals may in fact be good news for the Bucs.

While Peterson’s suspension will certainly muddy the situation, it could also be a springboard for talks concerning a trade between the two franchises.

It’s no secret that Peterson has been at recent odds with the Cardinals. He even made it known he wanted out of Arizona at one point during the 2018 season.

And now, tensions are likely higher than they’ve ever been due to the suspension, especially after it was reported that Peterson was unhappy that the Cardinals wouldn’t restructure his deal to help lessen the financial hit he is about to receive.

I’m sure you all know what’s coming.

Should - or could - the Bucs possibly make a play for Peterson?

The timing of this will be crucial, but first let’s get the salary cap situation out of the way.

According to, the Bucs have -$139,729 in cap space after signing five of their eight draft picks.

In order to sign Devin White, Jamel Dean, and Mike Edwards they will need to clear around $4,934,703 in cap after clearing the bottom three of the top-51 contracts.

Now obviously, the Bucs could lessen the hit if they cut more expensive players, but let’s just stick with the worst case scenario.

Peterson’s 2019 cap hit currently sits at $11,884,588, but since he will be suspended for six games, he will be docked six games worth of pay.

If a NFL player is suspended, then they must forfeit that season’s base salary and prorated signing bonus - if they have one - for the duration of the suspension.

Since Peterson’s base salary is $11 million and he has no signing bonus, we need to divide $11 million by 17 (players get paid on bye weeks) then multiply that by six.

Peterson would make approximately $647,059 per game. So, his suspension will cost him a total of $3,882,354 - which also counts as cap relief for whatever team he is on. Therefore, he’d cost $7,117,646 against the cap in 2019.

Add this to the almost $5 million left needed to sign the draft class and this leaves the Bucs with about $12 million to clear in cap if they wanted to make a move for Peterson.

This is where the timing comes into play.

If I've understood this correctly, then the money that Peterson forfeits during the suspension could actually be credited back to whichever team he is on, per former NFL agent Joel Corry.

If this is indeed true, then Tampa Bay would really only need to clear about $8 million in order to make this trade happen.

We all know where that money would likely come from, but for monotony’s sake, I’ll leave that alone for now. But the $13 million cleared in that scenario would not only make room for Peterson, it would also give the Bucs extra cash to fill out the 53-man roster and have money for injury replacement throughout the season.

NFL: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Cincinnati Bengals
It’s not too hard to connect the dots.
Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

But would the Cardinals trade away one of their best defenders (and players) at a time when the stock is at an all-time low?

Arizona has also been very adamant about keeping Peterson, shooting down any talks of trade rumors.

That’d be the biggest hurdle to overcome in this scenario. The Bucs will need to offer a rather generous deal in order to gain Peterson’s services, but at the same time, getting Peterson at a 2019 discount may be enough incentive for the Bucs to ante up.

And keep in mind, Tampa Bay needs to move on this now if there is any interest at all. Peterson is allowed to attend all offseason activities - including OTAs, training camp, and preseason practices and games - so he will have plenty of time to get accustomed (or re-accustomed) to what’s going on with the Bucs.

If the Bucs sit on their hands, then they will miss out on that opportunity. Once the regular season starts, Peterson is basically banned from all team activities. They may also miss out on the money that would be credited back to them, but I’m not entirely sure on that scenario.

You also have to wonder if Peterson would even want to play for the Bucs, but it sounds like anywhere but Arizona is fine with him.

Peterson’s impact on the team is obvious. The Bucs would instantly upgrade their secondary with not only a playmaker, but one who knows Todd Bowles’ system and can help ease the transition of all the youngsters at the position.

Tick, tock. The clock is ticking.


Should the Bucs trade for Peterson if he’s available?

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  • 68%
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