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Steelers Release Veteran Cornerback Patrick Peterson

The Pittsburgh Steelers have released veteran cornerback Patrick Peterson, saving significant salary cap space for 2024/



Pittsburgh Steelers CB Patrick Peterson
Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Patrick Peterson in a game against the Green Bay Packers on Nov. 12, 2023. -- Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

The Pittsburgh Steelers are releasing veteran cornerback Patrick Peterson, according to a report by Adam Schefter of ESPN.

Peterson, 33, played one season with the Steelers in 2023 and had been under contract for 2024. His release will bring the Steelers significant salary cap savings, but open a hole for a starting cornerback opposite Joey Porter Jr.

Peterson was brought in on a two-year deal last offseason worth a total of $14 million. His release will save the team $6.9 million against its 2024 salary cap. Peterson was due a $3 million roster bonus on March 16, which likely necessitated the timing of the move.

With his release, Peterson will be free to speak with other teams before the official start of the free agency contact period on Monday.

The Steelers could have been attempting to negotiate a lower salary for Peterson to return to the team, and he still could despite being released. The Steelers have done that with other veteran players in the past.

An eight-time Pro Bowler and three-time All-Pro, Peterson was a first-round pick of the Arizona Cardinals in 2o11 and spent 10 seasons in the desert, where he collected most of the accolades that make up a Hall of Fame resume. He was a member of the NFL 2010s All-Decade team as one of the most decorated cornerbacks of his time.

Peterson played two seasons with the Minnesota Vikings in 2021 and 2022, rebounding with five interceptions in 2022, the second-most of his career. 

He signed with the Steelers in 2023, citing a long-time desire to play for head coach Mike Tomlin and also to play for the franchise of his cousin, former Steelers cornerback Bryant McFadden. Peterson and McFadden share a podcast, All Things Covered.

In 2023, Peterson started 16 of 17 games and played in 97% of Pittsburgh’s defensive snaps, while also showing off a significant level of versatility that had not been tapped earlier in his career.

Peterson played 208 snaps as a slot cornerback in 2023, according to Pro Football Focus, nearly double his previous career high. He also played 105 snaps of box safety, also near double his previous high mark, and 218 snaps of free safety, despite playing just a handful over his first 12 seasons.

Peterson started the season as the starting outside cornerback alongside Levi Wallace. Rookie Joey Porter Jr. replaced Wallace midway through the season, with Peterson sliding to the inside on passing downs and Wallace playing outside. Then, when several safety injuries hit, Peterson moved to safety and became the starter there for the team’s stretch run.

He said that he saw the move to safety as a way to extend his career and wants to continue to play beyond the 2023 season. Now it remains to be seen where that might take place.