The steady decline of the once great Patrick Peterson has become quite painful to watch for diehard fans of the Arizona Cardinals
Throughout the 2010’s, there was a performer on defense who the Arizona Cardinals could count on year after year. A shutdown cornerback who would take the opposition’s best pass-catcher out of the game on a regular basis. Those types of defenders don’t grow on trees, but the Cards and their fans became quite spoiled by the play of the fifth-overall selection of the 2011 NFL Draft.
Sadly, the 2020 version of Patrick Peterson is merely a shell of his former self. Quarterbacks who once refrained from throwing the ball in the direction of the former first-round pick are now testing him constantly. In fact, one might say that opposing signal-callers are consistently “picking on” the once-feared Peterson.
The decline of Peterson began back in May of 2019, when the NFL let it be known that it was suspending the former LSU star for the season’s first six contests. Arizona’s number-one cover guy had tested positive for PEDs, and would be forced to miss games for the first time in his professional career. It was quite a blow to defensive coordinator Vance Joseph, who had been hired by the Cardinals just four months before the bad news was revealed.
Peterson returned to the team in week seven with a bang, collecting seven tackles and a strip-sack during a Cards victory over the New York Giants. The following week, the 6’1, 203 pounder was credited with an interception, six tackles and a pass breakup during a loss to the New Orleans Saints.
Over the next several weeks, however, Peterson struggled mightily. It appeared that that the six-week layoff had taken a toll on the eight-time Pro Bowler after all. Peterson did manage to finish the campaign on a high note, but his up and down performance in ’19 raised doubts about what he’d be able to accomplish going forward.
In 10 appearances this season, Peterson has registered three picks, six passes defensed and 35 tackles. On the surface, those numbers appear to be quite respectable. Nevertheless, Arizona’s front office will have a tough decision to make regarding Peterson next offseason.
The 30-year old is in the final campaign of the five-year, $70 million extension he signed back in 2014. Whether Cardinals general manager Steve Keim will offer the veteran another deal in the coming months is totally up in the air. The franchise has a list of prospective free agents that is extremely long, and will more than likely have to wave goodbye to several of those individuals.
No athlete can stay at the top of his game forever. Diminishing skills are the enemy of everyone who makes a living playing sports. It appears that Father Time may finally be catching up with Peterson.