Barnwell: Cardinals extending Patrick Peterson could be ‘difficult negotiation’

May 21, 2020, 6:47 PM | Updated: May 22, 2020, 3:16 pm
Cornerback Patrick Peterson #21 of the Arizona Cardinals on the field during the first half of the ...
Cornerback Patrick Peterson #21 of the Arizona Cardinals on the field during the first half of the NFL game against the Los Angeles Rams at State Farm Stadium on December 01, 2019 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

ESPN’s Bill Barnwell hasn’t been the biggest fan of the Arizona Cardinals’ offseason, but the weight of the DeAndre Hopkins trade couldn’t objectively make him be down on it as a whole.

Arizona general manager Steve Keim plugged starting holes at defensive tackle (Jordan Phillips), outside linebacker (Devon Kennard) and inside linebacker (De’Vondre Campbell) in free agency, and all of those deals come with their risks. They’re backloaded with voided years and cash, a necessity for the free agents to get paid.

Judging those along with the Hopkins trade, Barnwell ranked Arizona with the eighth-best offseason among the 32 NFL teams.

The most interesting discussion looking into the future, however, is about what’s next for the Cardinals front office as the players continue through a remote offseason. Extending star cornerback Patrick Peterson is atop the list, Barnwell writes.

The Cardinals’ first priority should be locking up their superstar corner, who is entering the final year of his deal. The market for cornerbacks on the wrong side of 30 was bleak this offseason, as players such as Chris Harris Jr. and Jimmy Smith signed short-term deals, while Logan Ryan remains unsigned. Peterson will turn 30 in July, and while he is playing at a higher level than any of those guys, this could end up being a difficult negotiation if Keim & Co. don’t rubber-stamp a huge deal.

In 10 games coming off a six-game PED suspension, Peterson recorded 53 tackles with a sack, forced fumble and two picks. He got off to a fast start, hit a wall and then finished strong as he found his legs and learned defensive coordinator Vance Joseph’s system.

The stout close to 2019 certainly was needed heading into an offseason where Keim must determine Peterson’s future.

The cornerback backing off a trade request two years ago might indicate both Arizona and Peterson want him to prolong a career in the desert, but the up-and-down nature of his 2019 season might pump the brakes on if the Cardinals want to back up the Brinks truck.

Harris this offseason signed a two-year, $17 million deal with the Los Angeles Chargers after spending his entire career with the Denver Broncos. He could be the closest comparison to Peterson having come into the NFL the same season (2011) — but Harris has four Pro Bowl berths to Peterson’s eight.

Aside from the blip in the middle of 2019, it’s questionable whether Peterson has fallen off as one of the best one-on-one coverage men in the NFL.

Peterson is making a base salary of $12.1 million this coming season. At a priority position in the NFL, he still has a good case not to take a paycut. It’s the length of a new contract that could lead to grappling between the two sides.

Beyond judging Peterson as an individual, Keim will have other complicating matters.

Safety Budda Baker is entering the final year of his rookie deal, while running back Kenyan Drake and receiver Larry Fitzgerald are among the other key Cardinals who could become free agents after the 2020 season.

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Barnwell: Cardinals extending Patrick Peterson could be ‘difficult negotiation’