There is no denying that Patrick Peterson is one of the elite shutdown CBs in the NFL.
There is also no denying that as excellent as Pat P. is in shadowing the league’s best WRs, he is and remains unhappy with the Arizona Cardinals.
Despite vowing to Cardinals’ fans at the Phoenix Waste Management PGA Golf extravaganza in January that he is here to stay in Arizona, all it took was a comment made to him on the eve of the team’s first voluntary mini-camp under new head coach Kliff Kingsbury to send Pat P. into a dither to the point of sending cryptic “snakes in the grass” and “I see where you STAND” messages on Instagram and deleting all Cardinals’ related info on his Twitter biography---thus with Peterson’s continued no-shows at the team’s OTAs, Petersont’s status with the Cardinals is clearly in limbo, whether the Cardinals want to publicly admit it or not.
Here’s a guess as to what ticked PP21 off. Peterson, who normally attends most, if not all, of the Cardinals’ voluntary OTAs and minicamps, had made a commitment to play in a charity golf tournament in the Denver area and it happened to coincide with the Cardinals’ voluntary mini-camp. Seeing as the Cardinals made a late scheduling change and the OTAs were pushed forward a week, perhaps Peterson thought the voluntary mini-camp was going to be a week earlier, thus he could have felt justified in honoring his charity golf tournament commitment. Regardless, when Peterson called to tell management that he would not be attending the voluntary mini-camp, whomever took the call likely expressed to Pat something to the effect that missing mini-camp was not something a team captain would normally do...and certainly not something that Larry Fitzgerald would ever do---as avid a golfer and philanthropist as Fitz is.
Hey Tom Brady takes OTAs off, so why can’t Pat P.?
But---here’s the ironic rub. You might recall that after the Cardinals refused to comply with Peterson’s trade request last October and after Peterson was talked off the ledge by Michael Bidwill, Peterson eventually started embracing the idea the he was in line to become Larry Fitzgerald’s successor as the iconic leader of the franchise.
There might be reasons to believe that Peterson thought that there was a very good chance that Fitz was going to retire this off-season and that the time for Peterson to take over as the most prominent face of the franchise was going to be this year. You might recall, when Peterson, while playing at a golf tournament, was apprised by the media that Fitz just announced his return in 2019, Peterson looked and sounded surprised.
However, there were already problems with the notion of Pat P. taking over for Larry as the primary NFL icon in Arizona. For one, Larry never got desperate enough to ask for a trade. For two, Larry never complained to the league and the media whenever he didn’t get selected to the All Pro team. For three, Pat P, has never played as hard and tough in all aspects of his position, especially the least attractive ones, the way Larry has. If Pat P. put the kind of effort into tackling that Larry does into blocking, then the passing of the leadership baton would seem far more fitting.
Fitz would have never thrown a hissy fit with regard to a question about his leadership, because Fitz would never put himself in that position in the first place. Fitz loves golf as much as an amateur on the planet. But there is no way Fitz would even consider missing an organized team event (whether it was voluntary or not) to go and play golf instead.
The Pat P. situation appears to be past the point of no return. He can no longer be taken seriously as a leader. People will say that teammates understand players who want to get paid or given their due respect---but the curtain has been pulled back on the true nature of Pat P.’s modus operandi. He is a diva, pure and simple. And he plays like a diva---he puts all his effort into covering his man, but he wants to play in a tuxedo that never gets ruffled or sullied by grass or dirt stains.
The Pat P. situation is somewhat similar to the time when Anquan Boldin allowed his bitterness with team management to affect his morale---to the extreme point of not even celebrating with the team in the locker room after the team won the NFC Championship game. He ghosted his teammates. Situations like this typically do not have happy endings.
Let’s not forget that two weeks later in Super Bowl 43, QB Kurt Warner, in a effort to make Boldin happy, while knocking on the goal line late in the 2nd quarter, forced a tight slant pass in the direction of Boldin that was picked off by OLB James Harrison and taken the distance for a TD that very well could have cost the team from winning the Lombardi Trophy. That end zone interception by Harrison ranks right up there with Malcolm Butler’s game saving interception of Russell Wilson---again---on a forced pass that at the time was completely unnecessary and avoidable.
These are things that happen when egos get in the way of team.
Michael Bidwill and Steve Keim have been making one bold move after another this off-season---and now the move to deal Pat. P. should be the exclamation mark. While Bidwill always worries about PR hits and the fans’ reactions, Pat P. is acting up during what is one of the most exciting new chapters of Cardinals’ football. The last thing that this young, enthusiastic team needs is a disgruntled prima donna taking away from the local and national buzz surrounding the franchise.
Hopefully Bidwill knows by now that the team can’t treat Pat P. or consider Pat P. in the same light as Larry Fitzgerald. During the Cardinals’ voluntary mini-camp, while Pat P. was playing golf, Larry was on the practice field going at his craft so hard that new head coach Kliff Kingsbury was gushing with praise afterward.
This time around, the Cardinals don’t have to play secrets and build up suspense. They should do what the Steelers did with WR Antonio Brown---put Peterson up for auction and go with the highest bidder.
Peterson will love all the attention the auction will bring him---he will be aok.
Chances are very strong that the Cardinals will get a much higher return than the Steelers got on Antonio Brown (#66 and #142 picks---WR Dionte Johnson, Toledo and TE Zach Gentry, Michigan). For one, Peterson is 2 years younger than Brown. For two, Peterson’s situation is not nearly as volatile and toxic as Brown’s was. For three, Peterson’s salary for the next two years is highly attractive given the current CB market and Peterson’s ability to take away the opponent’s best WR.
A reasonable expectation would be for the Cardinals to acquire a 2020 1st round pick plus a young player---or---a 2020 2nd round pick, plus a good veteran player, preferably an offensive lineman or CB---or an attractive combination of draft picks such as a 2020 2nd and a 2021 3rd.
And who knows---with the $11M the Cardinals would add to the cap, they could sign DT Ndamukong Suh to take the romance out of the running game and to bolster the team’s potentially ferocious pass rush. Establishing a more physical, punishing style of defense would be a major step for the Cardinals toward becoming a surprise contender.