DAN BICKLEY

Patrick Peterson’s reported trade request adds more doubt to Cardinals

Oct 22, 2018, 8:56 PM
Arizona Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson (21) looks at the replay board during the second half...
Arizona Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson (21) looks at the replay board during the second half of an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Rams , Sunday, Oct. 2, 2016, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
(AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

Controversy has clipped the wings of our NFL franchise. The Cardinals are no longer the happiest team on Earth.

They are a franchise in denial, in last place, in need of an industrial-sized fan to blow smoke out of team headquarters.

The Cardinals are lucky to be 1-6. They were clowned by the Broncos on national television. They are alienating their most important fans, those beginning to believe their favorite team is playing a shell game. A franchise that seemed to graduate above this level of garden-variety malfeasance with a Super Bowl appearance in 2009.

Sorry. After firing offensive coordinator Mike McCoy following Thursday’s 45-10 loss to the Broncos, the Cardinals are no longer healing or moving on. To the contrary, they are defying and deflecting reports that star cornerback Patrick Peterson desperately wants out of a “deteriorating” situation in Arizona.

The organization is now scrambling to find oven mitts, keeping the lid on a pot ready to blow. In the process, they are breaching civic trust. This is a serious issue.

During Michael Bidwill’s stewardship, the Cardinals established competence and credibility in the Valley, expanding their fan base and cultivating a deep well of public trust. The prodigal son atoned for the competitive sins of his father, rising to prominence in a league where blue blood is turning to new blood almost overnight. But this?

Last week, general manager Steve Keim dismissed ongoing trade rumors involving Deone Bucannon, Haason Reddick and Peterson as fake news, baseless and uninformed. After a Week 6 loss to the Vikings, rookie head coach Steve Wilks said trade speculation involving Peterson was reckless, refusing to comment on a subject he deemed as “ludicrous.”

That changed in a terrible way on Monday. Everyone felt it except for Wilks, who insisted he’s received no signs of unhappiness from Peterson, the star capable of ruining his image and undercutting his locker-room authority overnight. Wilks said his five-star cornerback would not be traded under any circumstances, firmly touting the solution without any knowledge of the problem.

Yeah, right.

Valley sports fans have a longstanding reputation for being gullible and transient, a tapestry of bandwagon jumpers, frontrunners and low-hanging fruit. But we’re smarter than that.

Facts: Peterson has an ebullient personality. He’s been absurdly happy in Arizona, prepared and respectful, grateful for his wealth and blessings. He took heat for accompanying Michael Bidwill in a helicopter ride to the team’s debut practice in 2016, reveling in the kind of rock-star treatment that Deion Sanders would surely endorse.

Peterson represents the best of NFL impact players: Never in trouble, never tested on the field, never a malcontent, with no history of dissidence. He knows how good it can be in Arizona. So what has changed?

If McCoy was the real problem, extracted from the team’s future like a benign tumor, then what’s Peterson’s beef moving forward? And if our star cornerback has lost faith in the direction of the program, what are we supposed to believe?

The offense was supposed to be our saboteur. Sam Bradford stunk, never owning the job or the lucrative contract he was gifted. The recently-fired McCoy was a scapegoat who installed too much, delivered too little, succeeding only in marginalizing his best players.

But on draft night, the Cardinals lucked into a franchise quarterback. At worst, they will have prime real estate in the 2019 NFL draft and nearly $100 million in salary cap space to spend on new players. What could make a guy like Peterson want to bail now?

His silence is suffocating, just like his lack of faith. And it’s about time for the 2018 Cardinals to come clean.

They no longer rank among the NFL’s nouveau elite. They’ve lost their edge and their swagger, just another team pretending to swim while staying afloat.

Reach Bickley at dbickley@bonneville.com. Listen to Bickley & Marotta weekdays from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station.

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