PITTSBURGH — Does Patrick Peterson know the Steelers haven’t won a playoff game since the 2016 season, or a Super Bowl since 2008?
“I’m playing for jewelry at this period in my career,” Peterson said earlier this week on Adam Schefter’s podcast.
So why did Peterson, one of the top cornerbacks in NFL history and a future first-ballot Hall of Famer, agree to a two-year contract with the Steelers?
Again, I’m wondering.
Peterson didn’t hesitate Monday when asked — why Pittsburgh? — on the All Things Considered podcast he does with his cousin, former Steelers cornerback Bryant McFadden:
“Obviously, I love Coach Tomlin and what he brings to the table. Just how consistent he is. How consistent his defense is. How consistent his team is, year in and year out. He’s going to have his team in position to fight. They’re always in position to win ballgames. That’s all you can ask for.
“Why not want to be a part of something like that to finish my career?”
Peterson said he had other options as a free agent and admitted the Steelers’ offer “came out of left field.” His 2022 season was a good one, even though it was his 12th in the NFL. His five interceptions with the Minnesota Vikings last season tied for second among cornerbacks. His coverage rating of 79.7 from Pro Football Focus ranked eighth.
That’s why my first thought about getting Peterson was positive, that it was a really good move by the Steelers, who, earlier Monday, lost Cam Sutton to the Detroit Lions.
But then I paused.
I realized Peterson will turn 33 before training camp. That is a red-flag age for any player, especially a cornerback who relies so much on his legs and has so much wear and tear on those wheels. Look at how quickly Joe Haden lost it. At 30, he was a really good player for the Steelers in 2019. At 31 and 32, his play slipped. At 33, he was out of the NFL.
Could the same decline happen for Peterson?
For a third time, I am wondering.
To his credit, Peterson has been incredibly durable. He started every game in each of his first eight NFL seasons before missing the first six games of 2019 because of a PED suspension. He started all 16 games in 2020, missed four games in 2021 because of a hamstring injury and started all 17 last season.
It’s obvious the Steelers believe Peterson will be better than Sutton in the next two seasons. McFadden said Tomlin texted him and is “fired up” about luring Peterson.
It’s just as obvious Peterson believes in Peterson. He talked as if 33 for him will be the new 23.
“I’m done talking about my age,” Peterson told McFadden. “I know I can still ball. I work and train too hard and different from anyone else across the league. I train and work on things that are going to help me in games. ...
“I feel like the game is so much slower to me right now. I have so much more knowledge, understanding what is going to happen to me. That’s why I’m able to be in position to make plays. I might not be the fastest anymore, but this on top of my shoulders is good. ... [The Steelers] can expect the same exact player they saw last year and more. I’m in the lab right now working on all of the miscues I felt I had last year. That’s going to help me become a better player this year.”
Sounds good, right?
I’m going to take the man at his word.
If Peterson does still have something left as he promises, he will make a defense that has fellow All-Pros T.J. Watt, Minkah Fitzpatrick and Cam Heyward that much better.
I don’t have to wonder about that.