By Kevin Ross II
CBS Local Sports presents 32 Players in 32 Days, a daily feature focusing on one impact player from each NFL team.
Patrick Peterson – CB – #21
Weight: 219 lbs.
Hometown: Pompano Beach, FL
Experience: 4 years
Patrick Peterson, who is soft spoken by nature, is loud on the field. He doesn’t talk trash and he is above clownish behavior. Instead, he quietly finds the other team’s best receiver and gives him hell all day long. His personality is the antithesis of Seattle’s Richard Sherman, who many feel is the league’s top cornerback.
However, this offseason many were surprised to see Peterson reach down to Sherman’s level and engage the Seattle cornerback on Twitter. Peterson seemed irritated by Sherman’s new four-year $57.4 million deal, which made Seattle’s loud mouth the highest paid cornerback in the league. Sherman was brash in accepting his new contract, making it known that the league’s top defensive back should obviously be the highest paid.
For the first time in his career, Peterson stepped away from his normally shy bravado, and went all out on Sherman.
“I don’t want to get in a debate as far as stats that he [Sherman] has and things like that. Obviously his job is definitely much easier than mine,” said Peterson in May after being asked about Sherman’s claims that he’s the NFL’s best cornerback. “But if you look at their scheme and look at our scheme, he’s a Cover 3 corner. Period. A lot of guys say he’s a shutdown corner. But if you look at film and guys who understand the game, go back and look at film and see how his defense is. I believe that if you put him in our system, I don’t believe he’ll be able to last, honestly. Because I actually do much more than him. …The fans, they see he’s got tons and tons of interceptions. And that’s all fine and dandy, but he’s only covering space. He’s not really covering a guy. So at the end of the day, he has great stats. He has great playmaking ability — not taking that away from him, because he is a good corner. But as far as being a shutdown corner, man-to-man guy, in my eyes, I don’t believe he’s that.”
Sherman, in response, played things extremely cool, and simply tweeted out a statistical comparison of the two defensive backs. This time around, Sherman let his stats do the talking, and he put an abrupt end to this twitter war. All significant stats point toward Sherman being the better defender.
The Arizona Cardinals front office seemed to take notice of this, and actually took a deep look at how they could maximize Peterson’s ability. The Cardinals examined how they were using Peterson as a returner on special teams, and as a receiver on several offensive packages.
They determined that the amount of time 24-year-old Peterson was spending working with the special teams and with the offense was detracting away from him fine tuning his craft. Instead of being in special teams meetings, they wanted Peterson to have more time to study wide receivers. And instead of worrying about learning offensive packages, they felt Peterson would benefit from having more time to learn the nuances of the defensive playbook.
The front office decided that Peterson would be completely removed from offense, and will only be rarely used as a punt returner. To replace Peterson on special teams, Arizona signed wide receiver Ted Ginn to a reported three-year contract worth $3.25 million annually. This cleared the way for Peterson to officially focus on nothing but defense. Peterson took time to comment on the changes, saying “My duties are now done, but I am completely OK with it. … It’s just a different task being able to now focus on just playing cornerback as opposed to trying to study all three phases.”
The Cardinals are confident that they have positioned Patrick Peterson to take the throne back from Richard Sherman. And to demonstrate their level of confidence, on Tuesday night, the Cardinals awarded Peterson with a new five year extension worth $70 million, with $48 million being guaranteed. If you’re wondering, the new contract makes Peterson the highest paid player at his position. And right on cue, RIchard Sherman responded to the new deal by tweeting out a picture of his Super Bowl ring. Peterson may have the higher salary, but for now, it’s Sherman who sits on the throne.
Kevin Ross is a freelance writer covering all things Washington Redskins. His work can be found on Examiner.com.