The Minnesota Vikings are a team in transition but remain a quality franchise with viable expectations of winning in both the short-term as well as the long-term.
For that reason, and several others, Alex Ballentine of Bleacher Report predicted on Monday, March 27, that eight-time Pro-Bowl cornerback Patrick Peterson will regret his decision to cut ties with the Vikings in favor of a $14 million deal with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
[Vikings former defensive coordinator Ed] Donatell was fired and replaced by Brian Flores, who spent last year as a senior defensive assistant/linebackers coach with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Coincidentally, Peterson left for Pittsburgh, which played man at the fifth-highest rate in the league.
At one time Peterson was one of the NFL’s best corners and it wouldn’t matter what scheme he was in. That time is gone. As his age-33 season approaches, there’s a real possibility that Peterson’s play is set to fall off a cliff if the Steelers continue to heavily rely on man coverage in their second season under coordinator Teryl Austin.
Even if Peterson couldn’t arrange a new contract with Minnesota, it would have been wise to find a scheme that would accommodate him better.
Patrick Peterson Put Up Monster Year For Vikings in 2022
A big part of the Vikings’ new direction was the hiring of Flores, who is likely to bring with him to Minnesota blitz-heavy tendencies that require frequent man coverage in the secondary.
That said, both Flores and the Vikings expressed interest in bringing Peterson back in 2023 and potentially beyond, even despite heavy media speculation that Flores’ system wouldn’t be the perfect fit for Peterson.
That Peterson landed with Flores’ old team where the requirements to play man coverage will be arguably even higher than they will with the Vikings this season doesn’t make a ton of sense considering how spectacularly Peterson performed in Minnesota last year.
Peterson held opposing quarterbacks to a completion rate under 60% and a collective passer rating of 79.6, per Pro Football Reference (PFR). He also defensed 15 passes, made five interceptions and recorded three tackles for loss.
Peterson Likely Bolted For Pittsburgh For Financial Reasons
What the precise issue was for Peterson and the Vikings remains unclear. The CB openly stated a desire to return to Minnesota earlier in the offseason and clearly didn’t leave for schematic reasons or he would have chosen somewhere more suitable to his talents.
That leaves money as the only likely disconnect between the two sides. The Vikings paid Peterson $8 million in 2021 and $4 million in 2022. Both were one-year contracts. What Minnesota offered the cornerback to return in 2023 and how many years were part of that proposal has not been publicly reported.
However, Peterson received a two-year deal at a $7 million annual price point from the Steelers, which means that if money was the concern, the Vikings didn’t dig too deeply in their pockets to keep Peterson around.
Instead, Minnesota signed Byron Murphy to a two-year contract worth $17.5 million to replace Peterson in the secondary. Murphy has played his entire four-year NFL career with the Arizona Cardinals up until this point.
During that time, he has appeared in 56 games and earned 48 starts. Murphy has amassed 229 tackles, including nine tackles for loss, defensed 34 passes, made five interceptions, recovered five fumbles, logged three sacks and scored one defensive touchdown, per PFR.