Steelers Projected to ‘100 Percent’ Bring Back Veteran Cut Candidate - Sport News

Steelers Projected to ‘100 Percent’ Bring Back Veteran Cut Candidate

The first few weeks of the offseason is a popular time for pundits to suggest roster cut candidates around the NFL. According to multiple writers, cornerback Patrick Peterson should be one of those cut candidates for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Patrick Peterson

However, The Athletic’s Mark Kaboly threw cold water on the notion that the Steelers could cut Peterson in his mailbag on February 21.

“I’d put it at a conservative 100 percent chance he returns,” Kaboly wrote to a question on how likely it was Peterson comes back. “Position flexibility, experience and leadership can cost money. They might have plans to move him to safety, which would be interesting.”

In 2024, Peterson will be entering the second year of the 2-year contract he signed with the Steelers last offseason. He will have a $9.775 million cap hit for the upcoming season.

During the 2023 campaign, he recorded 42 combined tackles with 11 pass defenses and 2 interceptions. Peterson played 97% of Pittsburgh’s defensive snaps in 2023 at various positions in the secondary.

He will turn 34 in July.

Patrick Peterson to Return to Steelers?

Kaboly suggested that the Steelers have already decided Peterson’s future in Pittsburgh. But on the surface, the team faces a difficult decision with the veteran cornerback.

While Peterson was extremely reliable, finishing first for the Steelers defense in snaps, he isn’t the same All-Pro player he was a decade ago with the Arizona Cardinals.

According to Pro Football Focus, he was below average. Among cornerbacks who played at least 80% of his team’s defensive snaps in 2023, Peterson posted the third-worst PFF player grade.

Based on the PFF grades, Peterson experienced a poor first half of the season. His play improved in November but then tailed off again in the final three weeks of the campaign.

In Week 15, Peterson began playing significantly more at safety, which he had never done previously. That could at least partially explain the drop-off in his PFF grades.

At 34 years old, he’s likely to continue receiving snaps at safety and slot cornerback. So, he’s going to need to play better at those positions to justify a cap hit north of $9 million.

The Steelers, though, may be willing to bet on Peterson improving after another offseason of training at multiple positions.

They could also keep Peterson for simple depth purposes. Fellow Steelers cornerbacks Levi Wallace, James Pierre, Chandon Sullivan and Elijah Riley are all free agents.

Peterson Wants to Return to Steelers

The 13-year veteran appears to be hearing the noise that pundits are speculating about his future in Pittsburgh. Peterson spoke about the matter on the February 15 episode of his “All Things Covered” podcast.

“The question is if the Steelers want me to finish with them. I signed a two-year deal for a reason,” said Peterson.

The veteran cornerback also referenced his future with a tweet on January 26.

“In control of my Destiny, Never in Doubt..,” wrote Peterson.

“YEAR 13, Thank You!!! Continuing to persevere while balancing various roles. What lies ahead?

“Year 14… Be Back soon…”

Peterson didn’t really say whether he’d for sure be back in Pittsburgh. But clearly, he’s going to try and play somewhere in 2024.

Other Steelers insiders don’t agree with Kaboly that it is 100% guaranteed Peterson will be in Pittsburgh.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Ray Fittipaldo wrote on February 13 that it was “better than 50/50” that Peterson will be released unless he accepts a pay cut.

“Can’t see them taking on a $10 million cap hit for a guy who can no longer play outside,” Fittipaldo wrote. “And you don’t keep that cap hit for a hybrid safety rotational type player.”

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