We might see Patrick Peterson in a uniform other than Cardinal red in 2021. The former No. 5 overall pick is an unrestricted free agent this offseason and the latest reports suggest Arizona will not be looking to retain his services.
A few years ago, this would have been very exciting news and most of the league's teams would be very interested in adding his skill set. Nowadays? Not so much. Peterson, at 31 years-old, is no longer the athletic marvel that led to his top-5 selection in the 2011 NFL Draft, and he was never the most technical cornerback in the NFL.
Nonetheless! Peterson has a big name and, even if he isn't a No. 1 corner anymore, can bring reinforcements to teams in dire need of secondary help. Here are four potential landing spots for the former All-Pro cornerback who still has something left in the tank.
San Francisco 49ers
The Niners know better than most teams what Peterson can offer after playing him twice a year every season of his career. If they decide he's worth a deal, they should be first in line to chat with Peterson's agent about acquiring his services. San Francisco's 2020 season was derailed from Week 1 thanks to a rash of injuries to important players, but the team's secondary was actually a bright spot and the Niners gave up the fourth-fewest pass yards per game in the NFL. Unfortunately, nine of the players who made up that secondary are free agents this offseason.
GM John Lynch will likely bring at least three or four of those players back, but bringing in Peterson as additional depth would be an excellent idea. Peterson could feast on the back end as a ballhawk, waiting to capitalize on mistakes made by the opposing quarterback by virtue of San Fran's dominant pass rush. Cornerbacks on a team with as good a front four as the Niners have don't need to be shutdown players. They just need to be good enough and in the right position when a bad throw comes their way. Peterson can still do that much, and the Niners will need some reinforcements.
Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs will be the favored destination for every veteran-turned-ring-chaser free agent for the foreseeable future. The team that has Patrick Mahomes has a better chance than anybody to appear on Super Bowl Sunday year to year. Peterson has played in all of two postseason games over his nine-year career. He is probably ready to play some serious postseason football, and no team offers a guaranteed opportunity like Kansas City.
On the flip side, KC should be welcoming any free agents with Peterson's mindset with open arms. They can always use more help defensively and cornerback is the weakest position group of the unit, even with rookie L'Jarius Snead blowing away expectations in his first season. Tyrann Mathieu would probably be happy to be reunited with his former Arizona teammate after he's done tweeting about Tom Brady. If Peterson doesn't mind signing for cheap, this is an easy call for both sides.
Indy would be a balanced destination for Peterson. The Colts still need to figure out what they're gonna do at quarterback, but assuming they enter 2021 with a player of equal production level as Philip Rivers was in 2020, they are a playoff team. Peterson wouldn't be tasked with doing too much if he joined this extremely talented defense. He would have a good shot at playoff football. And, perhaps most importantly, the Colts can afford to give Peterson a hefty contract to outbid other teams if it comes down to it.
Indianapolis doesn't need Peterson and GM Chris Ballard isn't going to leap at the opportunity to overpay for an aging cornerback. But if a few extra million makes the difference, Peterson is quality depth for an already-good defense, and Indianapolis has a team worthy of playoff contention right now.
The Cowboys desperately need help on defense. They will take it in whatever form they can find. If Peterson feels the allure of playing for America's Team, Dallas would love to have him. They have some cap space to work with and are set up to be playoff contenders in 2021 with the return of Dak Prescott. This is a natural match, but Dallas' ability to offer a reasonable sum for Peterson's services is heavily dependent on what happens with Prescott's contract negotiations. The Cowboys currently are projected to have $27 million in cap space this offseason, but a franchise tag for Prescott would mean a $37 million cap hit this season. If they can't reach a long-term deal with Prescott, their financial flexibility will be all but eliminated.
Should they have even just a bit of money left over after it's all said and done, Peterson makes for a good fit.