Eight logical trade destinations for Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson
Patrick Peterson wants out of the desert.
Who can blame the star cornerback, still just 28 years old but further from a Lombardi Trophy than he's ever been, for asking the Arizona Cardinals (1-6) to trade him after eight seasons?
For the league's 31 other teams, there seems to be more to weigh here than gaming out the usual scenarios to acquire an established veteran.
Peterson is a three-time all-pro (he's never failed to earn a Pro Bowl invite) who's still at the top of his game. He'd also represent more than a rental, his contract running through 2020, and he plays a premium position that's hard to fill.
Given that backdrop, here are eight franchises that might represent especially snug fits:
Cleveland Browns: They have plenty of cap room this year and next and aren't afraid of pulling the trade trigger. A promising but inconsistent defense, currently ranked 26th against the pass, could surely use another corner to team with and mentor rookie Denzel Ward. Pairing that duo on the back end with Myles Garrett applying pressure up front sounds like a nice combo for a young club in position to continue loading up around Baker Mayfield.
Denver Broncos: Imagine Peterson and Von Miller on the same defense. It may seem pie-in-the-sky, but this unit has missed Aqib Talib and would be best served to line up a better player alongside Chris Harris while shifting Bradley Roby (a free agent after the season) back into his nickel role. A re-imagined "No Fly Zone" might just provide enough juice to cover for a Case Keenum-led offense seeking consistency.
Houston Texans: Graybeards Kareem Jackson and Johnathan Joseph are north of 30, former first rounder Kevin Johnson can't stay on the field, and Shareece Wright and Aaron Colvin are role players. Peterson would enjoy instant chemistry with former Cardinal Tyrann Mathieu while improving a team that only has a few years left to win a title with J.J. Watt. Money isn't an impediment here.
Kansas City Chiefs: Perhaps the secondary, which continues to await the return of safety Eric Berry, isn't the primary culprit for a defense allowing the most yards in the league. But adding a lockdown corner would only provide more time for the pass rush while bolstering hopes for the championship that's long eluded Andy Reid.
New Orleans Saints: In theory, maybe it's the optimum fit given how their young corners have regressed. This defense only need be average to give Drew Brees and Co. a legitimate title shot, but it currently ranks 28th against the pass. The Big Easy would also be an especially welcoming destination given Peterson is an LSU product. But in practice, this is hardly plug and play. The Saints don't have the cap room to accommodate the remainder of Peterson's $11 million base salary this season, and barely enough to afford him in future years. Compounding that issue, GM Mickey Loomis doesn't have much to offer Arizona in the short run having already dealt next year's first-round pick in order to draft pass rusher Marcus Davenport this spring. (UPDATE: The New York Giants are sending corner Eli Apple to New Orleans, making a deal for Peterson pretty much a non-starter at this point.)
New York Jets: Like Cleveland, they've got money to burn — more than $100 million in 2019 cap room. And, like Cleveland, they need to continue upgrading the talent around quarterback Sam Darnold, whose rookie deal allows for such flexibility. Yes, GM Mike Maccagnan is just a few months removed from shelling out for cornerback Trumaine Johnson, but he's better deployed — even at his exorbitant cost — as a No. 2 corner, and a need will exist after this season regardless when Morris Claiborne is slated to reach free agency.
Philadelphia Eagles: It's starting to feel like Howie Roseman needs to make one of his patented mega-moves to ignite the floundering champs. Certainly a gambit for Peterson should be under consideration given the struggles of corners Jalen Mills and Sidney Jones. Philly is devoid of cap room in 2019, so this type of move would require Roseman to get Peterson into the building, then figure out other financial considerations — and perhaps even a subsequent trade of Pat Pete — in 2019.
Washington Redskins: A hard-to-figure club, currently residing atop the NFC East, will probably go as far as the defense takes it. Peterson would clearly take the secondary up a notch, allowing disappointing Josh Norman to match up with less capable receivers. And given this offense's general lack of explosiveness, Peterson's return abilities might also be especially helpful, too.
Follow Nate Davis on Twitter @ByNateDavis
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