After losing a versatile, cerebral player in cornerback Cameron Sutton to the Detroit Lions, the Pittsburgh Steelers believe they’ve found a replacement for the homegrown cornerback, reportedly agreeing on a two-year contract with veteran cornerback Patrick Peterson Monday.
While Peterson can’t officially sign with the Steelers until the start of the new league year on Wednesday, he plans on joining the black and gold to finish out his likely Hall of Fame career. He aims to be a versatile piece that can move all over the defense, much like Sutton and former cornerback Joe Haden did in recent seasons for Pittsburgh.
On his podcast for CBS Sports’, “All Things Covered” with former Steelers’ cornerback and cousin Bryant McFadden, Peterson said he aims to move all over and be an integral part of the game plan every week. While having certain visions for himself in the black and gold, Peterson doesn’t quite know what’s in store for him from a usage standpoint.
“I really don’t know. I didn’t have the opportunity to speak with anyone in the organization just yet to really get a clear understanding of what that would be. But going back and just watching how they used Joe Haden, watching how they used Cam Sutton, who they just lost to Detroit, I kind of envision myself being like those guys,” Peterson said, according to video via the All Things Covered podcast page on YouTube. “Being a guy that can be implemented into the game plan, not being a guy that’s just lining up on one side of the field. Being able to mix and match me in different positions, so I’m looking forward to it.
“I hope that is in the coach’s plans, especially now being this late in my career. I feel like the game is so much slower to me now,” Peterson added. “So, I see it in a different light, at a different speed. I have a different perspective for it. I have so much more knowledge of what I have, understanding what’s going to happen to me, and that’s why I’m able to be in position to make plays. Yeah, I might not be the fastest anymore, but this right here [tapping head] on top of my shoulders.”
Peterson will be 33 years old at the start of the 2023 season, so the Steelers certainly broke tradition of avoiding 30-plus year old outside free agents — especially on the defensive side of the football. Last season, Peterson played a career-high 1,104 snaps for the Vikings. Of those, just seven snaps came lined up in the slot, with another 67 in the box.
Typically, Peterson moves from one side of the field to the other, trailing the team’s top coverage corner. That might not be the case in Pittsburgh as the Steelers typically like to have guys on one side of the field and just handle whoever is lined up there on any given snap. That could change with a player of Peterson’s caliber in the lineup.
Sutton played 185 snaps in the slot last season and recorded 861 career snaps in the slot for the Steelers in six seasons, according to Pro Football Focus. Peterson has 790 snaps in the slot on his resume, with 107 coming in 2020 — his last season in Arizona. However, he had just 21 snaps in the slot the last two seasons in Minnesota.
We’ll see what the Steelers’ plans are for Peterson in 2023. Chances of him moving around like Sutton did, going from the boundary to the slot, and even playing in the box feels like a bit far-fetched at this time.