Patrick Peterson will have another new cornerback opposite him in 2018.
Patrick Peterson is the Santa Claus of the Cardinals.
Each year, he delivers a hefty new contract to whichever cornerback plays opposite him.
Tramon Williams parlayed an excellent nine-game stretch as the starter in 2017 into a two-year, $10 million contract with the Packers in free agency. The year before, Marcus Cooper was given a three-year, $16 million deal by the Bears. After the 2015 season, Antonio Cromartie signed a four-year, $32 million deal with the Jets.
"It's a great opportunity coming to play on the other side of me, to make a name for themselves," Peterson said. "Make those plays, then if they become a free agent, go get that big payday -- because they're going to have an opportunity to make plays. Pretty much everyone who left here, playing for the league minimum, they end up going to another team and getting a pretty good dollar."
Peterson is happy to help others find riches, laughing off the notion that he deserves a percentage of their earnings.
"I think I have enough," Peterson said.
On Thursday, Peterson switched roles, from the gift-giver to the kid with the wish list. The one thing the perennial all-pro wants in 2018? A high-end talent at the Cardinals' other outside cornerback spot.
Peterson is one of the best defensive players in the NFL, but at a position that can be avoided by opposing quarterbacks. While he has allowed the fewest yards per route run over the past three seasons, Peterson is clearly itching to get more passes thrown at him.
Peterson said he's not frustrated with the revolving door of players opposite him throughout his Cardinals tenure, but knows what a fellow lockdown corner could do for his stat line.
"If we're able to get a true No. 2 cornerback that has solidified himself in this league, I think quarterbacks won't have an option anymore," Peterson said. "He has to go with his gut feeling, or he has to go with his first read. He has to second-guess himself on both sides of the field now. I believe if we can get us another corner that can stand up, make plays, build a name for himself, I think that would present more opportunities for me."
It's easier said than done, especially this time of year, when most of the top free agent cornerbacks have been gobbled up. The team can spend a high draft pick on a corner, but even then, it's unknown how quickly a rookie will catch on.
If personnel isn't the answer, it's possible a scheme change could bring Peterson more action. He's excited about the switch to a 4-3 base defense under new coach Steve Wilks.
"I love a 4-3," Peterson said. "That's all I played in my football career. When I first got into the NFL, the 3-4 was kind of a little foreign to me, but I had to learn to grow with it, because that was our scheme, that was our identity. Now that we are moving over to a 4-3 – which I thought we were built for a 4-3 since I've been here, but coaches want to go with their scheme – I think it's going to make us that much faster, that much more disciplined, because guys can literally just line up and play football. It's taking the thinking out of it."
Peterson admits there is no cut and dried way to get more passes thrown at him, as it is ultimately up to a quarterback's discretion. While his value to the Cardinals will be high either way in 2018, Peterson hopes he shows up more in the box score.
"I would love to be more involved," Peterson said.
The Cardinals take part in Phase One work as the offseason starts