Top Free Agent Landing Spots For CB Patrick Peterson

Going into what would be his 14th season in the NFL, it still looks like veteran CB Patrick Peterson has some juice left. Peterson is well on the other side of 30 and past his prime but he started 16 games for the Steelers last year, recorded double-digit pass deflections and was credited with a sub-60 percent completion percentage allowed. 

Patrick Peterson

In a league desperate for competent cornerback play, that type of production should still have value, especially for a contending team.

Pittsburgh moved Peterson around a lot last year, partially due to necessity with how hard injuries hit the Steelers in the secondary. Peterson saw a lot of time at safety and played the lowest percentage of snaps at outside corner of his career. The results were uneven. It’s hard to say if Peterson would be better served focusing on outside cornerback alone at this point in his career or if another year of training to be moved around the secondary could improve his production. 

The other wrinkle worth noting is the NFL’s new kickoff return rules. Early in his career, Peterson was a lethal return specialist. He’s not the same athlete he was in his early 20s but given the starting point for Peterson was one of the best athletes in the NFL, he could lose a step or three and still be in good company. 

Overall, despite his age and declining production, Peterson is still a notable option for teams still looking to fortify their depth chart at cornerback. 

Peterson, 33, is a former first-round pick of the Cardinals back in 2011. He finished the final year of his seven-year, $83.02 million deal that included $48 million guaranteed and made a base salary of $12.5 million for the 2020 season. 

He was testing the open market as an unrestricted free agent when he signed a one-year deal with the Vikings. Peterson signed another one-year deal with Minnesota in 2022 before joining the Steelers on a two-year, $14 million deal last offseason.

Pittsburgh cut Peterson after one season. 

In 2023, Peterson appeared in all 17 games for the Steelers and recorded 42 tackles, two interceptions and 11 pass defenses. 

We have him included in our Top 100 Available Free Agents list. 


There’s a good chance this coming season is Peterson’s last one in the NFL. It’s easy to see how coming full circle and ending his career where he began could be appealing for Peterson. 

There are plenty of other reasons a reunion makes a lot of sense, too. There are still key people in the building who are familiar with what Peterson brings to the table from a talent and locker room perspective, even if there’s a different regime under GM Monti Ossenfort and HC Jonathan Gannon. Fixing the secondary has been a priority for both men and the Cardinals have used Day 2 picks on Max Melton, Garrett Williams and Elijah Jones over the past two years. 

Those three will get the first shot at proving they can start and be long-term solutions for the Cardinals, but if one or more of them isn’t ready, Peterson could make some sense as a backstop. The best year of his 30s came in 2022 with the Vikings under DC Ed Donatell, who runs a similar system to what Gannon and Cardinals DC Nick Rallis operate. The emphasis on zone coverage maximizes Peterson’s instincts and the athleticism he still has while putting less pressure on him than a man-heavy system would. 

In addition, the example Peterson could set in the locker room as a pro who has played at a high level for well over a decade could be invaluable for the Cardinals’ young secondary. Arizona is in position to take a big leap forward with a healthy QB Kyler Murray and Year 2 under Gannon. Adding a glue guy like Peterson to the locker room could end up making a bigger impact than anything he’s able to provide on the field. 

Buccaneers (Jason Licht, Todd Bowles, Kevin Ross)

With the bulk of the offseason in the rearview mirror, the Buccaneers seem set to go into the 2024 season with either Zyon McCollum or Bryce Hall starting at outside cornerback across from Jamel Dean. Both are over six feet tall and McCollum in particular has outstanding athleticism. But they have two interceptions between them over six combined seasons, both by Hall. Despite the projected confidence from the coaching staff, this looks like a weakness on paper. 

Peterson would provide a veteran alternative with a much more extensive resume than either McCollum or Hall. Even if one of the younger players seizes the starting job, Peterson would be a valuable depth option for a Tampa Bay squad that’s looking to win the NFC South for the fourth straight year and secure a fifth-straight playoff berth. 

There’s also extensive familiarity between Peterson and key decision-makers in Tampa Bay. Both Bucs GM Jason Licht and HC Todd Bowles worked with Peterson in Arizona. Licht was in the front office, while Bowles was the defensive coordinator for multiple seasons. Even Bucs CB coach Kevin Ross held the same position in Arizona and worked closely with Peterson at one point. All of them know exactly what Peterson can bring from an on-field perspective and as a veteran mentor in the locker room. 


The Broncos have taken a few stabs at finding a competent running mate at the No. 2 cornerback spot across from star CB Patrick Surtain II. It’s an important position for them because teams looking to avoid throwing at Surtain will pepper Denver’s No. 2 corner. The options on the roster include veteran Levi Wallace, signed this spring, and mid-round guys on rookie contracts like Riley Moss, Damarri Mathis and Kris Abrams-Draine. 

Denver will take that group into training camp and hope someone distinguishes themselves. But if they don’t, or if injuries strike the cornerback group, the Broncos could be forced to dip back into the free agent market for help. That’s where Peterson could make sense. 

Peterson is best suited not to be a primary cornerback at this stage of his career but he has enough left in the tank to hold his own across from Surtain. There would be a lot of familiarity with Broncos DC Vance Joseph who Peterson played for in the same role in his last few seasons with the Cardinals, and that would help ease the learning curve if Peterson has to come in mid-training camp or early in the season. 

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