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NFL Draft

How Much Is Patrick Peterson’s Play Worth?

  • The Draft Network
  • June 17, 2020
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Patrick Peterson has seen the rise and fall of the Arizona Cardinals; however, it’s been more of a fall in recent seasons.

Peterson, who was selected fifth overall in the 2011 draft, wants to finish his career in Arizona. The three-time All-Pro cornerback has never known another team, and the one that’s now assembled in the Valley gives Peterson confidence.

The Cardinals are equipped with a second-year coach, Kliff Kingsbury, who Peterson dubbed a “mad scientist;” a defense, coordinated by Vance Joseph, that’s “tailor-made” for Peterson’s strengths, and a championship-caliber roster with Offensive Rookie of the Year, quarterback Kyler Murray, and one of the NFL’s top wide receivers, DeAndre Hopkins.

As for Peterson, he’s entering the last year of his current contract. The 29-year-old cornerback, who turns 30 in July, is coming off an average season—two interceptions, seven passes defended, and 53 total tackles—but for the first time in his career, missed a stretch of games. Peterson was suspended for violating the NFL’s performance-enhancing drugs policy. It also ended his streak of eight consecutive Pro Bowls.

It’s a big year for Peterson, he admitted as much when speaking to NFL media in late May, but how much is he worth? And is he worth that much to Arizona?

Peterson is set to make around $12.5 million in salary and bonuses this year—his base salary is $12.1—and is optimistic a new deal with the Cardinals will be reached; to ensure he can make the most out of his contract year, he’s stated he wants to table any discussions of a future deal if the two parties can’t agree to terms by the start of the season. It’s a smart decision, and if his play warrants a high number, he can leverage that during the next offseason. 

Peterson currently rounds out the top-five highest-paid cornerbacks. His $14.01 million average per year is just under the New York Giants’ James Bradberry ($14.5). Bradberry is four years Peterson’s junior, much like the other cornerbacks at the top of the market except for Darius Slay. The Detroit Lions’ CB is the same age as Peterson and brings in $16.68 million a year as the highest-paid corner. Peterson’s next contract won’t come close to that, but as a productive veteran, he can see a decent top number. 

His market projection is $11.4 million a year, and estimates his new deal will be three years, $34.3 million. This contract would put him in the ballpark of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Joe Haden, who signed a two-year, $22.4 million deal last year at the age of 30. Peterson’s value here is based on production. For players not necessarily performing at Peterson’s level—or getting top dollars prior to a new contract—but are around the same age, cheaper, short-term deals make sense. For example, Chris Harris Jr.’s two-year, $20 million contract with the Los Angeles Chargers and Jimmy Smith’s one-year, $6 million extension with the Baltimore Ravens.

The good news for Peterson is he has produced at a high level and believes he can continue to do so in his 30s when the 2020 season starts. Now, is he worth that much to Arizona? 

He isn’t without his flaws. While Peterson shows high-level playmaking ability, he allowed opposing quarterbacks to have a higher completion percentage facing him in coverage last season. Peterson finished 2019 with a 76.6% catch rate allowed and a 114.9 passer rating allowed; both middling numbers that Peterson believes he can improve on.

The Cardinals invested a lot into their offense this season and spent some money shoring up the defensive line. They will also have to secure both sides of the ball in the 2021 offseason. Running back Kenyan Drake and receiver Larry Fitzgerald are scheduled to become free agents after the season, and safety Budda Baker will be eyeing a new contract as well. 

Peterson can make the case that he shouldn’t take a pay cut, but the length of his contract will be the biggest factor. Drake still has years left since he’s yet to play and start a full season, rumors of Fitzgerald’s retirement swirled this offseason and it wouldn’t come as a surprise if he chose to do so next year, and Baker is playing the final year on his rookie deal. Arizona isn’t strapped here. If it continues to prioritize top veteran talent in skill positions—as it did with Fitzgerald all these years—then a new deal at Peterson’s market value is achievable. 

Peterson is already looking past his last two recent rocky seasons, and if he can establish himself again as an elite cornerback in 2020, he’s more than worthy of an approximate $11.4 million deal. The Cardinals should see that too.

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