It’d been building for week, perhaps even months.
And then finally, all the rumors and questions turned out to be a money-based decision after all.
Just not the one that the Arizona Cardinals fans thought it would be.
Arizona’s eight-time Pro Bowl cornerback Patrick Peterson is being suspended the first eight games of the 2019 season for violating the NFL’s performance-enhancing drug policy, league sources told ESPN.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) May 16, 2019
Normal suspensions is a 4-game suspension but there’s an additional 2 games that come from trying to mask it, which is what Peterson did.
After serving his six-game suspension, Cardinals’ CB Patrick Peterson will be eligible to return Oct. 20 at the New York Giants.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) May 16, 2019
This situation is certainly unusual and only adds to the drama surrounding Patrick.
In 2018, he notably demanded a trade to a different team, and had a national news from a blow-up with the team where he avoided OTA’s and still hasn’t been back to the facility.
We finally know that it was, of course, a money issue.
Breaking Cardinals news - https://t.co/G8vLE19neb— John Gambadoro (@Gambo987) May 16, 2019
Is redemption even possible for the Cardinals and Peterson?
Sure, he’s removed the Cardinals from his social media and isn’t with the team, but he doesn’t seem to have a completely broken relationship with the team as far as his press conference statement went below:
Patrick Peterson addressing questions about the suspension, if he will be at OTAs and his relationship with the organization. pic.twitter.com/QQ3moGq9Ps— Kyle Odegard (@Kyle_Odegard) May 17, 2019
There’s still, unfortunately, key factors where I think the following might happen.
I believe Patrick Peterson will be gone from the desert before the 2021 season.
Here’s three reasons why:
#1. Peterson’s extra two games for altering the test makes him a risk to hit again like it or not
There are honest mistakes in the NFL, I believe. Peterson said that the substance he took was for his diabetes and didn’t seem to shoulder a lot of blame.
We’ve seen areas before such as Richard Sherman beating his NFL suspension and Colts pass-rusher Robert Mathis claiming that his substance was due to a fertility drug.
Colts pass rusher Robert Mathis suspended 4 games: http://t.co/RGCEhjOA86 pic.twitter.com/JLtjubtEsq— NFL (@NFL) May 16, 2014
Whether the case or not, we saw Steve Keim get BLASTED for “apparently claiming to know a dead cop” when in fact he was following protocol by alerting the team’s head of security and straight up said he messed up. Now, a DUI is far worse than a suspension obviously, but it’s interesting how Peterson still seems to be like a victim in this situation.
Trying to “cover up” isn’t a mistake. It means you were trying to cover it up, and any sort of lie is a problem. We’ve seen this before after all with another player (more on that later) and it means that if Arizona wants to extend Peterson, there may be a risk of a 10-game suspension should it happen again.
Sure, I wouldn’t expect that given that it seems unlikely a player like Peterson would jeopardize a huge payday, but it speaks ill of his character.
And that character’s something that’s never come into question with him until now.
Which isn’t good. It means that what was a sure thing for the Cardinals is now a risk...and it might be a risk they don’t want to take having been burned now.
#2. Peterson’s unwillingness to add years to his deal likely means he wants to hit free agency
As @Gambo987 said on the radio, Peterson wants to hit free agency in 2021. He’ll be a 31 year old corner looking for a huge payday but should he maintain his ability as the best cover corner in football, he’ll get it.
The truth is, if Peterson wanted to stay in the desert, he could be looking to add a temporary year on his deal now and then wipe that away with a whole new 4 year deal in the desert re-instating him as the highest paid corner in football.
I would guess that Arizona would gladly pay that deal given the way they’ve spoke of him and his talent level, and how they didn’t trade him this last season.
That means the onus is on Peterson, and if he reportedly wants to hit free agency, it means he wants to go to the highest bidder, Arizona or not.
Given that all this drama was over a money issue, it’s probably not good.
#3. The above two reasons might mean there could be more tragedy ahead it’s best for Arizona to move on at some point after the 2019 season
Daryl Washington. Karlos Dansby.
The former is a warning, while the latter is a question of what could have been with a ring of honor player who spent three small stints with the Cardinals rather than their entire career.
And I think that might be where we are heading.
Given that Peterson’s on an incredible value deal for $23 million over the next two years (less now given his suspension) originally I believed that Arizona could extend him after this offseason to lock him up long-term. That it was likely.
And maybe that argument is still there to look at this as a one-time big mistake but fans will always remember this:
I apologize to all my fans, teammates and to the Cardinals Organization. I promise to work even harder and to not let you guys down anymore.— Daryl Washington (@DWashington58) April 3, 2013
Keim got burned.
He believed Washington and got burned, badly.
Does he risk it again with Peterson? He might, but given Peterson is already 29 I have a feeling he might not given that Peterson’s no spring chicken in NFL terms even if he’s in the prime of his career.
Add in past experience of Karlos Dansby’s desire to be a mercenary and take huge deals and a pay day that was above Arizona’s price range to run to the Dolphins and then to the Browns, it bears to make sense that there’s no guarantee Peterson prefers to stay in the Valley and maybe fetch a “bit” less or have security from his team than hitting the open market.
The latter is easily the way that non-QB’s can maximize their value. And if that’s what Peterson wants to do, then it doesn’t matter how well he talks about the team or plays if his goal is a one-way ticket out of Arizona as soon as he can get it.
What does that mean and how should the Cardinals handle it?
It’ll have to be on a year-by-year basis.
I believe one thing is guaranteed...Peterson’s gonna likely be in the desert through 2019.
It’s hard to see the Cardinals trading him mid-season (maybe that changes if he holds out or demands a trade upon rejoining the team Week 7 when his value is SO low right now.
Give Peterson time to rehab his image with his play from Week 7 to Week 16 and evaluate where you are as a team.
On the cusp?
Perhaps Peterson for 1 more year or so through the end of his deal is worth it.
Perhaps at that point you can toss him out for a first once you know where teams are drafting and the price can go up as teams look to make a move for him.
Arizona could also look at the franchise tag as a simple one-year solution post-2021 although that might disappoint Peterson and upset him similar to Le’Veon Bell. But that might make Peterson even more angry and only pro-long the drama and inevitable as we saw it with Cousins and Le’Veon.
Arizona hasn’t been able to keep Peterson happy since that 2015 season and Peterson’s unable to have what he’s sought whether in money, fame, status or winning football.
Now he has a suspension that tarnishes his legacy, Pro Bowls, HOF status and upcoming contract, too.
It means an inevitable divorce might be coming. And for my two cents? I don’t know if I would even risk it to pay up. I would look at trading Peterson for a 1st plus following the 2020 season unless I feel like the 2020 Cardinals are going to be a playoff team with a Super Bowl shot, which we’ve seen teams like the Rams, Seahawks and Eagles do in year two or three with their QB’s.
Yeah, it’s not a bridge that I think is totally broken.
But it’s still one I don’t think ends with Peterson retiring as a lifer with the team and as their “next Larry Fitzgerald”.
Maybe it’s not too soon for fans to get ready for a parting of ways that may be more mutual than we thought.
You can follow @blakemurphy7 on Twitter and hear more thoughts about Peterson’s suspension on the Revenge of the Birds podcast below: