Robert Alford had multiple reasons to sign with the Cardinals, but Patrick Peterson was at the top of the list.
The Cardinals were the first to call the veteran cornerback after Alford was cut by the Falcons earlier this month, and part of the sales pitch once Alford flew in for a visit was hooking Alford up on the phone with the team's perennial Pro Bowler.
"Me and Pat are close friends," Alford said on Friday's episode of "Cardinals Cover 2." "Just being able to play on the other side from him and learn the game from him, that's what helped me choose to be a Cardinal."
Alford's signing, a three-year contract, was a step to finally find that cornerback to start consecutive years across from Peterson – something that has yet to happen in Peterson's eight-year career. That was a selling point to Alford, who knows it probably means more work since teams throw away from Peterson – who will be traveling with the team's No. 1 receiver more regularly again this season.
"I'm always up for the challenge," Alford said. "My thing was, they target me, that's more picks I can get."
Finding that player was crucial this offseason for General Manager Steve Keim. Alford didn't have the best season last year in Atlanta, hampered by a bad ankle that lingered most of the season. Given the rash of secondary injuries for Atlanta, Alford felt the need to stay on the field – "They'd have to cut my leg off for me not to go out there," he said – and do what he could to help.
Before 2018, however, Alford had been a solid man-to-man cover corner, and that's what the Cardinals are counting on this season.
"It's extremely difficult to find," defensive backs coach Marcus Robertson said. "Defensively, the number one thing you need to do is rush and cover. With the addition of Robert Alford, and you already have a guy like Patrick Peterson in the organization, I honestly think you get a whole lot better.
"We walk in here (as new coaches) and in a week-and-a-half, to have an opportunity to get a guy of that caliber, I appreciate Steve Keim for giving us the chance."
Robertson has had a chance to coach Alford before, working with Alford in the Senior Bowl in 2013. Alford praised the help he got from Robertson, saying he had never forgotten it, and he, like Peterson, was a reason to sign.
But from the time the Cardinals wooed Alford, with Keim, coach Kliff Kingsbury and defensive coordinator Vance Joseph taking him to dinner, there was a comfort level Alford couldn't deny.
"There were a lot of teams that wanted to talk to me," Alford said. "The other teams didn't matter to me once I got (to Arizona)."