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Cardinals’ Patrick Peterson optimistic about contract, won’t let it distract

Patrick Peterson #21 of the Arizona Cardinals celebrates after intercepting a pass against the Cleveland Browns during the second quarter at State Farm Stadium on December 15, 2019 in Glendale, Arizona. Cardinals won 38-24. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

Entering a pivotal contract year and close to his 30th birthday, Patrick Peterson knows the individual importance of putting together a big 2020 season.

The eight-time Pro Bowl cornerback ticked off the boxes of confidence he has in Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury (“mad scientist”), defensive coordinator Vance Joseph’s scheme (“tailor-made for some of my strengths”) and the Cardinals as as whole (“championship-caliber”).

Peterson wants to finish his career as an Arizona Cardinal, something he’s insisted over the past year. He admitted on a Zoom call Thursday that contract extension talks have slowed but he’s “optimistic something will get done.”

If not, Peterson doesn’t want to be a distraction for a team that he believes can compete for a Super Bowl.

“As far as contract talks, not as much contract talks right now,” he said. “This is a big year for me. Never really been in a contract year but have had moments (where I’ve) had to do something to show my worth … I feel like I have something to prove.

“I don’t want to miss stuff talking about a contract in the middle of the season as I’m getting prepared for this championship run. It can go one or two ways … I don’t need that to be a distraction. I’m making good enough money this year so I’m not really complaining. I would love to be here with the Cardinals.”

Peterson admitted the 2018 and 2019 seasons didn’t go as planned for him as an individual.

He backed off a trade request in the heart of the 2018 season, a key week that marked the failure of the one-year Steve Wilks era. At the end of April 2019, Peterson again appeared dissatisfied. He posted cryptic messages on his Instagram account and didn’t appear at voluntary mini-camp. Three weeks later, the NFL suspended Peterson six games for a positive PED test.

Peterson made his 2020 debut on Oct. 14 and expressed relief at the end of that month when the trade deadline passed. No more questions about his future.

Until this offseason, one that has him excited as ever about the future of the Cardinals as he spoke to local reporters for nearly an hour over Zoom.

Over 10 games last year, Peterson recorded 53 tackles, seven passes defensed, two interceptions and a sack.

He struggled to find his legs midway through the year, especially in a Halloween night game against the San Francisco 49ers. But Peterson got his legs back and allowed Joseph’s defense to come more naturally in the final quarter of the year.

“Pat is a guy — Michael [Bidwill] and I have talked many times about this — we’d love to see him retire as a Cardinal,” Keim told Doug & Wolf on Feb. 14. “He’s under contract, and I think when you look at the body of work last year, he’d be one of the first to tell you he didn’t play up to expectations early on.”

Peterson believes his old dominant self is still there. He spoke at length Thursday about opposing offenses rubbing him off receivers through traffic and tweaking gameplans to free up his one-on-one matchups.

The cornerback once again referred to himself as a witness protection officer — as in, he makes guys dissappear.

Peterson believes the Cardinals and others know he’s still one of the best corners in the league. He’s also willing to admit the last few years haven’t been perfect.

“You must have a clear mind to be able to focus on the task at hand. I wasn’t able to do that,” Peterson said Thursday. “Towards the backend of the (2019) season, once I understood the defense, I understood what the coaches was looking for out of it. At the end of the day, I didn’t lose anything. My athletic ability, my skillset is still there.

“The front office would love for me to be here because they know what I bring to the table, not only my leadership, but on the football field, the classroom, the locker room.”


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