Why signing Patrick Peterson makes sense for the Steelers

Jan 8, 2023; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Minnesota Vikings cornerback Patrick Peterson (7) celebrates
Jan 8, 2023; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Minnesota Vikings cornerback Patrick Peterson (7) celebrates / Daniel Bartel-USA TODAY Sports

While the Steelers have made some free-agency moves, it’s been a relatively typical offseason as they make cheap and safe free-agent signings.  

Within the signings, they acquired cornerback Patrick Peterson. It was an acquisition that left some fans and analysts wondering why they did it. On the one hand, it was an odd signing in that he will be 33 before the season starts, and why would the Steelers let Cam Sutton go to pick up Peterson? Looking at it from another perspective, the move makes sense if they plan to grab a cornerback in the draft.

  Why signing Peterson makes sense for the Steelers

There may be some suspense on draft night as to who the Steelers take with their 17th selection. They have been looking at corners, tackles, and linebackers. Considering they have the 17th and 32nd selections, it’s almost like they have two first-round picks. It gives them options: they can draft the best players available or target one position at 17 and another at 32 and get two quality players.

Thus, if that’s how they proceed with the draft, they could likely take a cornerback with one of their first 2 selections. If that is their plan, that could be why they signed Peterson. Peterson is an aging veteran coming off one of his best seasons. He also can be a team leader.

So if the Steelers do take a corner, it lessens the need to rush the rookie to be a starter. Whoever they select can work his way into the starting lineup when his ready and take the time to learn from a skilled veteran learn the position. When Peterson's contract expires, he can replace Pererson unless he has become a starter opposite Peterson.

However, if Peterson should get injured, which could happen. As the Steelers had a few stretches in which they were missing their starting corners in 2022, they have a fresh rookie who can replace them to plug the hole. In that case, signing Peterson and drafting a cornerback could be a win-win scenario for the Steelers.

The risks the Steelers face signing Peterson

    The downside is that Peterson will be 33 when the season starts, and a few think Sutton was or is every bit as good as Peterson. Meaning they only dumped Sutton because they could get Peterson cheaper. The Steelers action then begs the following question. What if, despite his durability, he gets injured? Or if his level of play diminishes? Then you have a situation in Pittsburgh similar to Denver's problem with Russell Wilson last year. Thus if the Steelers do not plan on drafting a corner early, then it’s possible, even if remote, the decision to not keep Cam Sutton could prove disastrous.  

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So yes, the decision to sign Peterson does have an upside. Yet, it also comes with a bit of risk, depending on who they take in the draft. So we will have to wait and see how it all plays out; hopefully, signing Peterson will pay dividends in the long run.