The Pittsburgh Steelers made a splash on the first day of free agency, signing 3-time All-Pro cornerback Patrick Peterson.
In addition to the All-Pro teams, Peterson has made the Pro Bowl eight times and intercepted 5 passes last season, his most in a decade. The Steelers also added Peterson on an affordable two-year, $14 million contract.
Seemingly the only problem with his arrival is his jersey number. Peterson wore No. 7 last season and ESPN’s Brooke Pryor reported that the cornerback wants to stick with the same number in 2023.
However, Peterson clarified his intentions about wearing No. 7 with the Steelers in a tweet on March 13.
“I get it,” Peterson wrote in his post. “#7 is not up for grabs.”
Speculation that Ben Roethlisberger Could Give Peterson Permission to Wear No. 7
Pryor’s tweet about Peterson’s desire to wear No. 7 sent Steelers twitter into a frenzy shortly after ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Peterson was heading to Pittsburgh.
“Patrick Peterson says he would ‘love to rock No. 7,'” Pryor wrote. “He wore No. 7 in high school — and last year in Minnesota when he had 5 picks. Says jersey numbers are still getting ironed out.”
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger wore No. 7 for the Steelers from 2004-21. He played in more games than any other player in Steelers history and threw for 64,088 yards with 418 touchdowns while donning the No. 7.
Steelers fans were mixed on whether Peterson should wear the retired quarterback’s number.
Other Steelers fans on Twitter wrote that they were fine with Peterson wearing No. 7 if Roethlisberger gave the cornerback permission. Radio host Josh Rowntree of 93.7 The Fan proposed Roethlisberger allowing Peterson to wear No. 7 if he met certain stipulations.
The Athletic’s Mark Kaboly apparently found that idea to be a little too quirky.
Peterson began this career wearing No. 21 for the Arizona Cardinals, but two years ago, the NFL changed its number rule to allow defensive players to wear single digits. So when Peterson joined the Minnesota Vikings in 2021, he began wearing No. 7.
How Peterson Fits With the Steelers
The Steelers lost cornerback Cam Sutton to the Detroit Lions on March 13 but then addressed the position hours later with the addition of Peterson.
Peterson is about five years older than Sutton, but the Steelers only needed to guarantee $5.85 million to sign Peterson. Sutton received $22.5 million guaranteed.
Peterson will be 33 before the season begins, but he immediately arrives in Pittsburgh as the best cornerback on the Steelers roster. He hasn’t made the Pro Bowl since 2018, but he had 5 interceptions with 15 pass defenses in 2022. Peterson also returned an interception for a touchdown in 2021.
With the Cardinals, Peterson was one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL. From 2011-18, he made eight straight Pro Bowls and earned first-team All-Pro nominations in 2011, 2013 and 2015. He recorded a career-high 7 interceptions during 2012.
The hope is Peterson will replace Sutton in the short term, but even with his arrival, cornerback remains a need for the Steelers. With Sutton, Pittsburgh finished 20th in pass defense and allowed the second-most passing touchdowns last season.
After signing Peterson, Kaboly speculated that to further shore up cornerback, the Steelers will select a rookie early in the 2023 NFL draft. If that happens, Peterson, who has 11 years of NFL experience, should be a great mentor.