Patrick Peterson has been suspended for the first six games of the 2019 season for violating the NFL's performance-enhancing drug policy, it was announced Thursday, a significant blow to the Cardinals' defense in Kliff Kingsbury's first season as coach.
Peterson has never missed a game in his NFL career, playing – and starting – all 128 games in his eight seasons. He has 23 career interceptions as teams have shied away from throwing his direction for the last few seasons.
Peterson, talking at the VIP reception for his charity golf tournament being held Friday for the Patrick Peterson Foundation For Success, said he was "definitely sorry" for getting suspended.
"I'm deeply disappointed I am attached to something like this," Peterson said. "But now I'll put it behind me."
Peterson would be eligible to return in Week 7, a road game in New York against the Giants. The first six games of the Cardinals' schedule are home against Detroit, at Baltimore, home against Carolina and Seattle, at Cincinnati and home against Atlanta. He is allowed to take part in offseason and training camp activities, as well as preseason games.
"Patrick recognizes how disappointing this is for everyone in the organization as well as our fans," the Cardinals said in a statement. "As we all do, he understands that regardless of intent he is ultimately responsible for everything he puts in his body. Our coaching staff and our players are now aware that we will have to play the first six games without Patrick and they understand they have to rise to the challenge that it presents."
The suspension not only will keep him out of six games, but it also makes Peterson ineligible for any NFL postseason honors, including the Pro Bowl – which will end his perfect 8-for-8 streak since coming into the league. It will also cost him $3.88 million in salary.
The situation likely means an increased role right away for second-round draft pick Byron Murphy, whom the Cardinals believed was the best cornerback in the draft. Murphy figures to get a chance to slide into the starting role during Peterson's absence across from veteran Robert Alford. The Cards also have veteran Tramaine Brock Sr., who could either replace Peterson or work in the slot as a third corner, or David Amerson.
Peterson has had a rocky recent stretch, last season asking for and then taking back a request to be traded. Playing in the Waste Management Phoenix Open in January, he said he was "here to stay." He recently sounded as if he had further issues with some cryptic social media posts, but Peterson said there are no problems.
"The relationship (with the team) is great," Peterson said.