DeAndre Hopkins isn’t the only Cardinals player potentially in line for a big-money contract this offseason. Cornerback Patrick Peterson is too.
It’s been common knowledge that Hopkins’ desire for a new deal is what led to his trade from Houston to Arizona in mid-March. It’s been assumed that the Cardinals will take care of that by the time the season begins.
However, is it realistic to strike deals with both players? Coincidentally, they both have salaries of $12.5 million on the books for the 2020 season. Complicating matters is that Hopkins has three years remaining on his deal, while Peterson would become a free agent in March, 2021, without a new contract in place.
A first-round pick in 2011, Peterson signed a five-year, $70.5 million contract extension in 2014 when his rookie deal had two years remaining.
Peterson spoke to reporters for 51 minutes in a videoconference Thursday, and was exuberant in his hopes for the team this season, while also hoping his career continues in Arizona.
Noting that there isn’t “much in contract talks right now,” he said, “This is a big year for me. I’ve never really been into a contract year. But I have been in moments or had to do something to kind of show my worth or prove myself like coming into the NFL Draft or getting recruited out of high school, so I'm familiar with it. I feel I have something to prove. This is going to be, I believe, an incredible year for me. I just feel this can be a very, very special year not only for me, but for this football team.”
Staying in the desert is what he definitely wants, from the climate to the organization to the team.
“Of course, I would love to stay on one team. I love it here in Arizona,” Peterson said. “I mean, you can't beat the weather. I believe when you play in this type of climate, it adds years onto your career, it helps you stay healthier, in my opinion, because you're always playing in warm weather and not having that many opportunities to play in those cold-weather games.
“But I love the organization. Everything that Mr. (Michael) Bidwill has done since he has taken over the organization has been nothing but remarkable. The state-of-the-art facilities that we have now. The cafeteria, the (practice) bubble, the football field, the weight room. The list goes on. And I love what (general manager) Steve Keim is doing this year as well to make sure that we're in the best position possible to go out there and compete and collect as many Ws as we can in the future moving forward.”
Peterson also stressed that the potential distraction isn’t worth it if contract talks leak into the season.
He said, “I don't want to be in the midst of talking about a contract in the middle of the season as I'm getting prepared for this championship run because as a player, we have enough on our plates as it is and once you start talking about money during the season, it can go one of two ways. It can go on a good side or it can distract you. And I don't need that to be a distraction. I'm making good enough money this year, so I'm not really complaining, but like I said, I would love to be here with the Cardinals and if that's in the good Lord's will, so be it.”
He remains confident a deal will happen.
“I'm very optimistic that something will get done,” Peterson concluded. “I love it here, the front office would love for me to be here because they know what I bring to the table not only my leadership, but on a football field and a classroom. They understand what I mean to this organization. So, obviously, if they want to make it right and want to keep me here, they'll do that, but that's out of my control. There's nothing I can do about it.
“The only thing that I can control and all that matters to me is just going out to put together a dominant performance, because that's the only thing that I'm worried about this year. I got a chip on my shoulder bigger than it's ever been. With this being my 10th year, I'm very optimistic. Like I said, I feel something special. I told my dad the other day, that I could possibly be the first player that could win defensive MVP on every level that I've played football. So that's my goal. And that's what I'm going out to do this year.”
And the contract ... ?
“Honestly, I'm not worried about a contract,” he said. “If it happens, it happens. I'm worried about going out there every Sunday, whoever my assignment is, and not letting them breathe.”