The Cardinals will be looking for a No. 2 cornerback this offseason, which has become something of an annual search.
It's also possible they will need to find a new No. 1, which is not usually on the GPS.
The impending free agencies of Patrick Peterson and Dre Kirkpatrick are sure to put the cornerback position under a microscope over the next several months.
While Byron Murphy Jr. is set to return in the slot, General Manager Steve Keim must figure out what to do at both outside corner spots – two of the most premium positions on a defense.
Peterson is an eight-time Pro Bowler who has long been counted on to shadow the opponent's top receiver. He is set to be a free agent for the first time, at an age – 30 – in which the negotiating tends to get tricky.
"I love Patrick Peterson," coach Kliff Kingsbury said. "He knows that. We'll see where that all goes."
Peterson's track record of performance is sterling, but the past two seasons have not been as dominant as the first eight. Even if he's no longer an All-Pro-caliber cover man, the departure of Peterson would leave a serious void in the secondary with no replacement waiting in the wings.
Peterson prefers to remain with the Cardinals.
"I would love to, but at the end of the day we'll have to see, because the ball is in their court," Peterson said recently on his All Things Covered podcast with former NFL cornerback Bryant McFadden. "We'll have to see what they offer or what direction they want to go in. Everything is out of my hands at this point. I feel like I have done everything I could have done over the last 10 years (to prove valuable). … I believe the resume speaks for itself."
For the first time, Peterson has the latitude to test the market if the Cardinals' offer does not meet his expectations.
"I know I've got some decisions to make for me and my family, and my career and my future," Peterson said. "I'm going to have some time over the next two or three months to really sit down and think about some things."
While Peterson is the headliner, the Cardinals have other decisions to make at cornerback. Kirkpatrick proved to be a capable fill-in after Robert Alford was lost for the season in training camp. Kirkpatrick is 31, so he would be a stopgap if re-signed.
Alford is under contract for one more season at $9 million, with a dead money hit of $1.5 million if released. Alford, 32, has yet to play a down for the Cardinals after signing a three-year, $22.5 million contract in 2019. Veterans Johnathan Joseph and Kevin Peterson are also free agents.
"Every year you're going to have positional needs that come up that are viewed as more important than others in different positions," Kingsbury said. "We'll address all of that moving forward this offseason."
The Patrick Peterson situation is likely to be resolved first. In 2018 he was unhappy in Arizona, as a poor record and a zone coverage scheme led to a midseason trade request.
His mood eventually shifted, and he now sees a team on the rise.
"I do see progress from '19 to '20, and I can continue seeing the uphill climb and the direction the Arizona Cardinals' organization is going in right now," Peterson said. "I hope I can be a part of it, but I know it's a business. We'll see what happens here pretty soon."
Images of the team's 20 leading tacklers this season.