Steelers Make Final Decision on CB Patrick Peterson: Report

Patrick Peterson

Getty ESPN's Adam Schefter reported on March 8 that the Pittsburgh Steelers have released cornerback Patrick Peterson.

The long awaited decision from the Pittsburgh Steelers on veteran cornerback Patrick Peterson has arrived.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported on March 8 that the Steelers are releasing Peterson. The move saves the team $6.85 million in cap space (before top 51 roster displacement).

Peterson signed a 2-year, $14 million contract with the Steelers last offseason. But he spent just one year in Pittsburgh.

Peterson started the 2023 season slowly but improved around the middle of the campaign. At the end of the season, though, the Steelers asked Peterson to play more safety because of injuries and a suspension to Damontae Kazee.

The position shift was met with mixed results.

In 17 regular season games during 2023, Peterson posted 42 combined tackles with 11 pass defenses and 2 interceptions. He also had 4 tackles in the team’s lone playoff game.

Peterson has made first-team All-Pro three times in his career. He’s also received eight Pro Bowl nominations. But his last Pro Bowl appearance came in 2018, and he will turn 34 in July.

With his release, the Steelers will have a dead cap charge of $2.925 million in 2024.

Steelers Release CB Patrick Peterson

The Steelers backloaded the 2-year, $14 million contract with Peterson, which made for a difficult decision whether to keep him for 2024.

Peterson was set to have a $9.775 million cap hit this season. But the Steelers were already poised to lose fellow veteran cornerbacks Levi Wallace, Chandon Sullivan, and James Pierre in free agency.

The safe bet, then, would have been to keep Peterson. But instead, Steelers general manager Omar Khan elected for the extra cap space.

Without Peterson, the Steelers still have eight cornerbacks under contract for 2024 according to Spotrac. However, 2023 second-round pick Joey Porter Jr. is the only one of those cornerbacks who played significant snaps last season.

2023 seventh-round pick Cory Trice could figure into Pittsburgh’s cornerback plan this fall. Trice was an offseason workout standout last summer. But he suffered a torn ACL in training camp and didn’t play during the regular season.

Peterson began his career as the No. 5 overall pick for the Arizona Cardinals in 2011. He spent a decade in Arizona. For most of that tenure, he was one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL.

Peterson made first-team All-Pro three times in his first five seasons. He also made eight straight Pro Bowls from 2011-18.

From 2021-22, he spent two seasons with the Minnesota Vikings prior to joining the Steelers.

Peterson has recorded 652 combined tackles, 122 pass defenses and 36 interceptions in 201 career NFL games.

Steelers Cut Third Starter From 2023 Roster

The Steelers aren’t set to lose any starters (unless one counts Mason Rudolph) when free agency begins next week. But to open additional salary cap space, the Steelers have departed with three starters — Peterson, center Mason Cole and punter Pressley Harvin.

Those decisions appeared a bit surprising to The Athletic’s Mark Kaboly.

“Steelers now have released 3 starters — Cole, Peterson, Harvin — without having a replacement currently on the roster,” Kaboly wrote on X (formerly Twitter). “This Omar Khan plan must be a doozy.”

The Steelers have also released quarterback Mitch Trubisky, offensive lineman Chukwuma Okorfor and safety Keanu Neal this offseason.

Because of the Peterson and Neal releases, the Steelers have a significant need for secondary depth, especially at cornerback. The team could address cornerback in both free agency and early in the NFL draft.

The Steelers are also expected to sign a veteran quarterback. They have been connected to lots of different options, ranging from older veterans such as Russell Wilson or Ryan Tannehill to younger backups such as Sam Darnold.

Pittsburgh could also elect to re-sign Rudolph.

NFL free agency officially begins on March 13.

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