Pittsburgh Steelers sign former All-Pro cornerback Patrick Peterson

Steelers, Patrick Peterson
Steelers, Patrick Peterson / Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

Somehow, the start of free agency always seems to mess with our emotions. In one breath we are voicing our frustration with Pittsburgh's complacency, and in the next, we are praising the Steelers for making a splash move. On Monday, we learned that Cameron Sutton signed a three-year, $33 million deal with the Detroit Lions.

This came less than two hours after the start of the legal tampering period at noon Eastern Time. As we frantically wondered about how the Steelers would cover their bases following his departure, Pittsburgh turned around and made a splash of their own.

Ian Rapoport of NFL Network confirmed that the Steelers are signing veteran cornerback, Patrick Peterson. As of now, Monday afternoon, the specifics of his contract are still unknown.

Peterson is coming off a 5-interception season as a member of the Minnesota Vikings. The long-time cornerback has missed just three games over the past three seasons and has still proven to be a valuable asset over a decade into his professional career. Peterson is a three-time First-Team All-Pro cornerback who miraculously earned Pro Bowl appearances in each of his first eight seasons in the league.

Steelers add CB help, but how much does Patrick Peterson have left?

The biggest issue has less to do with his play and more to do with his age. Peterson is entering his 13th NFL season in 2023 and plays a position that relies on athleticism and speed to stick with receivers. At 33 years old, we have the right to wonder how much is left in the tank.

Studies have shown that a cornerback's shelf-life is typically 33 years old -- even when it comes to players who were once considered elite. Take Darrelle Revis, for example. Many considered Revis to be the best cornerback of his generation, but he retired following his age-32 season and proved to be washed up well before that.

While it's not impossible for Peterson to have a great year at the age of 33, he might be operating on borrowed time, and eventually, his play will fall off completely. Let's hope that doesn't happen before he can help the Steelers get back on track.

This move shows us that Mike Tomlin and Omar Khan are in the business of winning right now -- something we already knew. For those who were hoping Pittsburgh would make a big investment in young players who could be cornerstones to this team in the future, that just isn't how they have operated in recent years.

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The Steelers are clearly moving year-to-year, and they eventually need to capitalize if they are going to operate this way. Let's hope Patrick Peterson could be a true X-Factor and maybe even an upgrade over Cameron Sutton for the 2023 season.