Patrick Peterson had his first press conference today after being acquired by the Vikings as a free agent. Unlike many such press conferences, there was actually news on a number of things that emerged.
Patrick Peterson will Play Cornerback
There had been speculation, including my own, as to whether Peterson would play cornerback or safety with his new team. Peterson answered that decisively: “My position will be cornerback for sure.”
Speculation began when Peterson said he would be open to move to safety during a recent podcast, and some analysts suggesting he could make the transition like a Charles Woodson and be a good safety. Peterson put a decisive end to that speculation, however, and will start at cornerback this season for the Vikings, most likely opposite Cameron Dantzler. There could be some competition for slot corner between Mike Hughes and Jeff Gladney. Harrison Hand and Kris Boyd are also on the roster at cornerback, but with the safety position still needing a starter opposite Harrison Smith, it wouldn’t be surprising if the Vikings move a corner to compete at safety, and likely will draft a safety as well.
Peterson Sought Out the Vikings
Those who feel that Mike Zimmer is washed up, nobody wants to play for the Vikings, the team isn’t competitive, etc., etc., will be surprised to know that Peterson’s agent, Joel Segal, contacted Rick Spielman while coming back from Georgia’s Pro Day last week, and asked him if he was interested in Patrick Peterson. Spielman said in his intro to Peterson’s press conference that they had talked about Peterson in their free agency planning meetings, but didn’t think they’d have a legitimate shot at acquiring him.
Once Spielman knew they had a shot, they wrapped up the deal in two hours.
Peterson said his main reason for wanting to come to Minnesota was Mike Zimmer. He mentioned all the cornerbacks Zimmer has coached going back to Deion Sanders in Dallas, Leon Hall and Johnathan Joseph in Cincinnati, and Terence Newman. He said whenever Zimmer has worked with a defensive back to get him to the next level, he’s done that. He went on to say that Zimmer’s defenses have always been prepared, competitive, relentless, and have always been in the top 10 - acknowledging last year was probably his worst finish.
He went on to praise the culture and atmosphere in Minnesota, and said the Vikings roster was loaded- mentioning Captain Kirk had his best year last year, and naming Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen, Dalvin Cook, and defensively Anthony Barr, Harrison Smith, and Danielle Hunter.
Envisions Playing 16 Seasons
Peterson will begin his 11th season with the Vikings, after playing his first ten in Arizona. He said his plan is to play 16 seasons, so he’s not looking at this move to the Vikings as sort of a coda to his career in Arizona. He turned 31 last month, so playing until age 36 would be another achievement in his likely HoF career. Peterson talked about his health and training regime, and that he felt he “was doing something right” with the regime he’s had in place the last 8-9 years, as he hasn’t suffered a major injury, still feels young, in good shape, etc.
Looking at Peterson’s tape over the past two seasons - which were down seasons leading to the criticism that he’s lost a step - Peterson still looked like one of the better cornerbacks in the league, although his stats don’t support that. But his movement and command of the secondary continued to be sharp- you can see why Peterson says he still has a lot in the tank and a lot of football left in him.
Arizona has been a relatively heavy man coverage team, and guarding the opponent’s top receiver- as Peterson did- in man coverage may not yield the same ‘shut-down’ stats it once did. But how he’s used going forward could have a direct bearing on his success with the Vikings. It’s unrealistic to not have him play man coverage on occasion, and it still takes a pretty savvy receiver to beat him in man coverage, and even those don’t do it much. But his ability in zone coverage, which the Vikings are playing more of in recent years, could be an area where he steps up his game as a Viking.
Acquiring a 3-time All-Pro CB is something Mike Zimmer and Rick Spielman simply couldn’t pass up, particularly on a $8MM deal - $9MM if he meets his playing time incentive and $10MM is he earns another All-Pro nod. Patrick Peterson was arguably the best free agent CB this year, and clearly the Vikings are betting they can get him back to his All-Pro form, or close to it, with an added benefit of his leadership and mentorship of the young defensive backs on the Vikings roster.
Peterson clearly has faith in Zimmer, and this could turn out to be a win-win for the veteran CB and the Vikings this season.
Do you think Patrick Peterson will improve at CB under Mike Zimmer’s coaching and scheme?
This poll is closed