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Cardinals CB Taylor the latest candidate to start opposite Peterson

TEMPE, Ariz. – Jamar Taylor heard rumors that the Cleveland Browns were shopping him, but he resolved to go about his business.

“A guy like me, I try to keep my head down,” the sixth-year NFL cornerback said Wednesday. “After they drafted a corner fourth overall (Ohio State’s Denzel Ward), it’s kind of like, ‘Alright. Let’s get this ball rolling so I could hopefully get to a new team and I could put my best foot forward.’”

Taylor, 27, got that opportunity when the Browns traded him to the Cardinals last week for a 2020 sixth-round pick. Training camp is still two months away so the Arizona roster is far from set, but Taylor is projected to fill the No. 2 cornerback spot opposite Patrick Peterson.

“It always feels good to be wanted. Now I have to return the favor,” Taylor said. “I’ve always got 100 percent confidence in myself but at the same time you’ve got to put the work in. I have to make sure I’m doing my job so I get that opportunity to be on the other side.”

Miami selected Taylor in the second round (No. 54) of the 2013 NFL Draft. He played three seasons for the Dolphins before Miami traded him to the Browns in 2016. He won a starting job in Cleveland, recording three interceptions before signing a three-year, $16.5 million extension that December. He has started 29 games over the past two seasons.

When asked if Taylor would indeed be the starter opposite Peterson, Cardinals coach Steve Wilks offered a qualified answer on Wednesday.

“When you look at what he’s done on paper, I think you can say that,” Wilks said. “But again, once they are on the field, it’s a clean slate for everybody. We all know a lot of teams aren’t going to really try to test Patrick. The guy opposite him is going to get a lot of opportunities, and hopefully we can find a guy to step up.”

Brandon Williams and 2018 sixth-round draft Chris Campbell are the other main candidates, but Taylor has more experience than either. Taylor said he watches tape of Peterson every offseason. He believes playing opposite two-time pro Bowler Joe Haden in Cleveland prepared him for this challenge.

“It’s just more plays for whoever is over there,” he said. “That’s how you’ve got to look at it; more opportunity for you to get picks.”

Taylor was born in San Diego and played at Boise State. He was working out when the trade went down. His wife heard about it before him and called him excited.

“I’ve been waiting to play on the West Coast my whole career,” he said. “I went to Miami, then all the way north to Cleveland. I’m happy to be close to home and I know she’s happy to be around her family. We’re going to have way more support at the games now.”

John Gambadoro of 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station confirmed ESPN’s report that Taylor agreed to drop his base salary from $4.25 million to $975,000 before the trade, dropping his cap number by $2.75 million. Taylor didn’t address that fact when asked about it, insisting he has another motivation.

“I don’t play this game for money,” he said. “I started playing when I was 5 years old. It’s about just having fun. It’s about being on that field. It’s about the bond. It’s about being the best.

“At the end of the day, I’m trying to get to where [Peterson] is at. I’ve got a lot of work to do.”