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Patrick Peterson Wants to Return, But Won’t Accept Bench Role

Patrick Peterson wants to return to the Steelers, but he will only do it if he sees a role that gives him playing time.



Pittsburgh Steelers CB Patrick Peterson
Pittsburgh Steelers CB Patrick Peterson against the Cincinnati Bengals, Nov. 26, 2023 - Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

The Pittsburgh Steelers will have to make a tough call with veteran cornerback Patrick Peterson this offseason. He understands its business and cap implications, and Peterson wants to return. But that’s not fully up to him, and what he wants to do might not align with the Steelers. But Peterson did say that he was willing to do everything except sit on the bench in a glorified coaching role. If the team has a role envisioned for him, he wants it.

“You know I want to (keep playing). The question is if the Steelers want me to finish with them,” Peterson said on the All Things Covered Podcast. “Me and Coach Tomlin had a great conversation after the season. Obviously, I know that you have to go through your evaluations in the draft and free agency and things like that, but for me, what I was able to do in Year 13 playing different positions, coming into a new environment. I felt my season was very successful playing 97 percent of my snaps…As you saw this year, I’m open to playing wherever, whenever. Wherever I can be to help the team, I’m all for it. Except for the bench.”

That is the key phrase there. Peterson is not against returning it seems like, even a reduced role. But he needs to play somewhere. Peterson started to improve down the stretch as he moved around the defensive formation, but with a cap hit of nearly $10 million this upcoming season, it seems unlikely he will play on that number. In other words, Peterson will need to be extended to take a pay cut or could be released.

Peterson is the only veteran cornerback under contract heading into the 2024 season. Levi Wallace, James Pierre, and Chandon Sullivan are all free agents. Meanwhile, Cory Trice, Darius Rush, and Joey Porter Jr. create plenty of young depth, but they will need some veterans to guide them. The team will likely add in the NFL Draft given how deep this cornerback class is, too, but their decision on Peterson will decide just how urgent their needs are at cornerback in free agency and the NFL Draft.

Peterson is due a $3 million roster bonus in March and is set to earn $3.85 million in 2024 salary, making his cap hit next season $9.775 million. Porter is now clearly the team’s No. 1 outside cornerback, and while Peterson could man the second spot, or play in the slot or at safety, those positions don’t usually come with the same price tag as top guys on the outside.