Patrick Peterson has been one of the most revered players at his position over the past decade.
When the longtime Arizona Cardinals cornerback, who made the Pro Bowl in each of his first eight seasons and is a three-time All-Pro mention, reached free agency this offseason, Peterson had plenty of options.
Peterson, who turns 31 in July, agreed to terms of a contract last week and chose the Minnesota Vikings for one specific reason: Coach Mike Zimmer.
“Looking at a couple teams [this offseason], I thought Coach Zim himself stood out to me,” Peterson said in his first media availability after officially signing to a one-year, $10 million deal on Monday.
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Peterson Hopes Mike Zimmer Can Unlock the Next Phase of His Career
Peterson’s biggest reason for joining the team was to learn under the tutelage of Zimmer, who has coached several late-career cornerbacks who adapted to new playing styles and carried on their careers far into their 30s.
“[Zimmer’s] reputation speaks for itself. The things he does with not only the defense but with defensive backs… Deion Sanders, Leon Hall, Terence Newman, Johnathon Joseph the list goes on and he’s able to further got those guys’ careers,” Peterson said. “Those guys played 13-14 plus years. Coach Zim has something that he’s given those guys to help repave their career for new heights.”
Peterson took inventory of Minnesota’s potent offense featuring Kirk Cousins, Adam Thielen, Justin Jefferson and Dalvin Cook and also named players he’s excited to join on the defense like Anthony Barr and Harrison Smith.
“The coaching around here the atmosphere around here it was everything for me. It checked all the boxes,” Peterson said. “This team has nothing but a winning pedigree. And this is the organization I want to be around… I’m happy to be a part of it.”
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Peterson Hopes to Reassert Himself, Reach 16 Years in NFL
Peterson struggled the past two seasons as he’s learning to play in the years past his athletic prime.
He violated NFL performance-enhancing drug policy in 2019 and missed six games — the only games he’s ever missed as a pro. In 2020, he ranked 90th out of 136 cornerbacks by Pro Football Focus after committing the most penalties (12) out of any cornerback in the league.
Despite a down pair of years, Peterson said his “dreams and aspirations were to play 16 years.” His mind hasn’t changed and still has “a lot left in the tank.”
Peterson added that he’ll likely be in a similar position as 2020 rookie cornerbacks Jeff Gladney and Cameron Dantzler. Peterson hopes he’ll be able to “self-evaluate” alongside both second-year starters work on understanding “what you can do well and what you need to work on.”
He left his first press conference with a message of optimism.
“Having a fresh start, new scenery, fresh air, I think it’s going to be great for me,” he said.
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