Patrick Peterson is back from his 6 game PED and masking agent suspension. And now the questions are just beginning. We still don't know many details about the circumstances surrounding his suspension but we do know that there are several options the Cardinals may have for their one time franchise cornerstone CB.
Has Peterson been using throughout his career and his performance will fall off when he returns like Shawne Merriman once upon a time?
Shawne Merriman was the most exciting young pass rusher in football. He racked up 27 sacks his first two years in the league in 2005-2006, got popped for PED's in late 2006 and would have just 18 more sacks over the next six years in the league.
Or will he continue to be the best cover corner in the NFL, as he has been most of his future Hall of Fame career to this point?
There are plenty examples of other NFL players who have tested positive for PED's and resumed their careers like normal following their suspension, most recently the reigning Super Bowl MVP in Julian Edelman.
Will Peterson be more like Merriman or Edelman? We have no idea. I've never heard any whispers about Peterson and PED's but we've been lied to and fooled many times before when it comes to athletes and PED's.
Let's assume Peterson plays up to his usual All Pro standard. The Cardinals will have a major decision to make. With the NFL trade deadline less than two weeks away on October 29th, the team will have just two games to decide whether to keep Peterson and lock him up long term or try to capitalize on what could be his peak trade value.
Option one involves pairing Peterson with Byron Murphy at corner and having Tramaine Brock and Kevin Peterson as the depth this team has lacked at CB for years. The secondary could go from a major Achilles heel to a strength in one week. In the offseason, they'd sign Peterson to a massive contract extension and going forward would have P2, Robert Alford and Byron Murphy to take on the challenges of a conference overloaded with great QB's. Its a good option and one the Cardinals have publicly insisted they'd prefer but not the best option, in my opinion.
On the other hand, after the Jalen Ramsey trade, the Cardinals could hope for a bidding war between Super Bowl caliber teams with huge CB needs like the Eagles and Chiefs or hope a team like Detroit, Oakland or Dallas believes they are one move away from being a Super Bowl team. With the market set at two 1st round picks plus, the Cardinals could sit back and let the offers pour in. They could only trade Peterson for a king's ransom but its possible a team could offer two first round picks for a 29 year old corner coming off a six game PED suspension. In other words, an offer too good to pass up.
And to me, this is exactly what the Cardinals should do.
Not trade Peterson for the sake of trading him, but if a desperate team offers two first round picks, they need to take it.
With two firsts, the Cardinals could conceivably add a franchise DT (Derrick Brown?) AND a starting tackle, or a starting tackle (Andrew Thomas? Tristan Whirfs?) and a #1 WR (Laviska Shenault? CeeDee Lamb?) in the first round.
Its no guarantee a team that trades for Peterson would make the playoffs, especially if its a team in the NFC. That would be too good of an opportunity for this team to pass up as they look to add depth to their roster and fill some long term needs.
And thats just this year, next year they'd be in the same position or they could package both picks in 2021 to add the impact player the team may need to finish their rebuild.
Two months ago, it would've sounded impossible for the Cardinals to deal Peterson for two first round picks but like a lot of things with the organization, things have changed.