PHOENIX — Assuming the Arizona Cardinals and Patrick Peterson don’t reach an agreement on a new deal this summer, the 8-time Pro Bowler will enter a contract year for the first time in his career.
"I’m not really into watch this, prove this, but I can promise you this, this is definitely going to be a big year, just wait and see," Peterson said in a 51-minute Zoom call with reporters on Thursday. "To whoever is doubting me, or whoever doesn’t think I can still play at a high level, just wait and see.”
Peterson said he loves Arizona and wants to remain with the Cardinals for good, but there is also the reality that he is a soon-to-be 30-year-old cornerback who struggled in 2019 after coming back from a six-game PED suspension.
“My athletic ability, my skill-set is still there. My burning passion and fire is still there," Peterson said. "[Last year] I had no NFL live action for almost 12 weeks, well, I'd probably say 10 weeks. My last preseason game was I believe the second preseason game. So for me to jump back into the thick of things, I mean, Superman maybe can do that, but I'm not Clark Kent. I may have some Superman moments and Superman ways, but it just wasn't happening for me. But once I got back in the room, I felt unbelievable. That's what's going to carry over into this year.”
As Peterson enters his 10th season in the league, he said part of the reason for his recent decline in play was due to different defensive coaches and scheme fits. He acknowledged that, as a pro, it's his job to adapt, but he never got quite comfortable under certain coordinators. The feeling is different going into this year under current defensive coordinator Vance Joseph.
"I believe it's tailor-made for some of my strengths. Vance and the defensive staff, they understand what they have, not only in me, but the other 10 players that are going to be on the football field," Peterson said. "I'm just excited, I can't wait to get back on the grass. I just feel this can be very, very special, not only for me, but for this football team.”
If the Cardinals don't have future plans for the all-decade corner, Peterson could be up for grabs at the trade deadline prior to becoming an unrestricted free agent. If his play returns to its form from a couple years ago, then the two sides will work out a deal, but Peterson said there has been nothing discussed so far. The season, however, is not the time or place for those discussions.
“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. As a player, we have enough on our plates as it is," Peterson said, while adding, "I’m not worried about no contract. If it happens, it happens. I'm worried about going out there every Sunday, and whoever my assignment is, not letting them breathe.”
While the team hasn't been able to get together on the field or at the facility, Peterson said the potential of this team has everyone eager and energized in the virtual meetings.
“The sky's the limit for this football team, especially on paper. Adding the key pieces that we added to this football team, I believe if we all can come together, focus on that one goal, we can definitely take it the distance.”
Peterson looks back to the successful Cardinals teams that he's been on, and said this one is the best, at least on paper, because of its youth.
“We have everything that you need, and if you’re trying to build a championship caliber football team, we have the players. I believe this is that type of roster.”
In the toughest division in football, the Cardinals are trying to prove they are for real, while Peterson wants to show that he's still the guy that offensive coordinators have to gameplan away from.
“I got a chip on my shoulder that's bigger than it's ever been. With this being my 10th year, I'm very optimistic. I can feel something special.”