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Free Agent Spotlight: Cornerback, Patrick Peterson

Yet another former Cardinals player who might find his way back under his former coaching staff

Continuing our look at potential free-agents the Tampa Bay Buccaneers could pursue in the 2021 league year, we take a look at cornerback, Patrick Peterson.

Seems to be a trend this off-season as I’ve been assigned three straight former Arizona Cardinals players to profile for this year’s free-agent primer series.

This one though, might be my favorite of the bunch, and seeing Peterson playing ball for the Bucs may not be likely, but it would be a lot of fun.

So let’s dive in.

Patrick Peterson’s Career Thus Far

2011 NFL Draft Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images

Being drafted with the fifth overall pick in an NFL Draft is a pretty good way to get things started. Just ask Devin White.

Both Peterson and White have the spot they were picked in common, and they share LSU lineage. Oh, they also both played under - and had great success - under both Bruce Arians and Todd Bowles.

Only one of them is a Super Bowl Champion though, and that’s about the only place where Peterson’s career falls short of being an all-around dream story.

In three years at LSU, Peterson intercepted seven passes including four in his final season in 2010.

His ball skills and playmaking ability attracted him to NFL teams, and it’s those same skills that have helped him rob quarterbacks of twenty-eight more passes in his ten-year NFL career.

Peterson leaves the Cardinals as an eight-time Pro Bowler and having landed on the First-Team All-Pro roster three times.

You can check out Peterson’s reflection on being drafted in this video provided by the Arizona Cardinals' own media staff.

Why It Works

Going back to those ball skills. Peterson’s 28-career interceptions would rank him fourth all-time on the Buccaneers’ franchise list behind just future Hall of Famer Ronde Barber, Donnie Abraham, and Cedric Brown.

Brown is the only free-safety of the group, which is interesting because a move to the same position could be in the cards for Peterson moving forward.

In November of 2020 Peterson was asked about moving to safety by former NFL wide receiver Brandon Marshall who was a guest on Peterson’s own podcast.

His response, “I would be willing to move to safety.”

San Francisco 49ers v Arizona Cardinals Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

In the 2020 NFL Season, Peterson played exactly one snap at free-safety.

So why would it work in Tampa? Simply, it’s Peterson’s versatility and leadership that should attract the Bucs to the veteran defender.

Peterson may not come in owning a starting position at either corner or free-safety, so that fact could throw a wrench in things. I can’t imagine the team is looking to replace rookie standout Antoine Winfield Jr., and while the secondary certainly had their struggles in-season, both Jamel Dean and Sean Murphy-Bunting did well during the team’s eight-game winning streak.

Would Peterson come in as a favorite to push Dean and SMB down the depth chart? I suppose it’s possible, but I imagine a ‘best configuration’ type of system would be used to determine who starts and who doesn’t.

If the soon-to-be 31-year old is willing to potentially take on a role player position with the team though, he could be a valuable multi-use addition who would unlock the full potential of players like Antoine Winfield Jr.

But....

Is Peterson ready to be a role player and not a focal point? This is the question. And, if the Bucs needed him to play full-time as a cornerback due to unforeseen circumstances, does he have the wheels left to be able to do so in a scheme that will leave him in man coverage a lot of the time?

According to Pro Football Focus, only five cornerbacks played six-hundred snaps or more in pass coverage. Of those, Peterson had the second-worst QBR against, allowing opposing quarterbacks to reach a combined 100.8 QBR.

He also gave up three more receptions despite being targeted nine fewer times than Terrance Mitchell of the Cleveland Browns; the only player in this group with a higher QBR against.

What’s The Cost?

This is where things get a little messy. Spotrac.com projects Peterson to be worth $10.4M per year on a new three-year deal.

That contract value is similar to what Joe Haden (Pittsburgh Steelers), Logan Ryan (New York Giants), Desmond Trufant (Detroit Lions) and Chris Harris (Los Angeles Chargers) are earning currently.

$10M for a defensive back who isn’t even guaranteed a starting job seems steep. So if the Bucs did pay him this amount, I think you can pencil him in starting opposite of Carlton Davis III.

What We Don’t Know

We don’t know how Bruce Arians and Todd Bowles feel about their starting cornerback group. We know what they’ve said, and how they’ve played down the stretch, sure. But looking at the entire body of work, there is certainly room for improvement.

A lot of us thought the team might go with a veteran corner option in the 2020 off-season, and they didn’t. Coming off a championship run, is it possible the team turns to more veteran blood in the secondary to help get them to another one?

Make The Decision

Arizona Cardinals v Los Angeles Rams Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

I suppose this really depends on how you feel about a trio of Carlton Davis III, Jamel Dean, and Sean Murphy-Bunting coming into 2021 as your three cornerbacks. Ross Cockrell certainly did well in limited opportunity as well.

Do the Tampa Bay Buccaneers need to insert some veteran talent near the top of their cornerback depth? Do you envision Peterson as a back-up or role-playing corner/safety? Tell us what you want Jason Licht to do, and comment below for how you see this player fitting in, if at all.

In case you missed them, check out my previous write-ups on Adrian Peterson and Haason Reddick as well.

Poll

When it comes to Patrick Peterson, what would you have the Buccaneers do?

This poll is closed

  • 2%
    Sign him, no matter what
    (8 votes)
  • 32%
    Make an offer, but keep it reasonable
    (88 votes)
  • 21%
    Invite him for a cup of coffee and see where it goes
    (60 votes)
  • 17%
    Call him up if they have a need after the NFL Draft
    (49 votes)
  • 25%
    Don’t need him
    (70 votes)
275 votes total Vote Now

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