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Why the Patrick Peterson Safety Experiment Could Fail



Steelers CB Patrick Peterson
Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Patrick Peterson in a game against the Indianapolis Colts on Dec. 16, 2023. -- Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

BALTIMORE — Patrick Peterson has talked up the switch to safety as becoming a godsend for his career. After announcing his intentions to return in 2024 for a 14th season, Peterson’s move to safety could lengthen his career. But his game has some questions that must be answered before that switch works out for him full-time.

“I always had dreams and aspirations to play 15 years, but that wasn’t guaranteed to me,” Peterson said. “I’m just very blessed and lucky to still be playing this game I love 13 years and counting, because I still plan on coming back next year.”

Peterson’s idea of playing at safety is a good one. He is a cerebral player who can read offenses and quarterbacks from back there, giving him a chance to make plays. Peterson wants to extend his career by mitigating his athleticism concerns and embracing what made him great for so long. With his ball skills, it all does click quite nicely together. Except, he has to tackle if he is going to play there consistently. Eric Rowe has stepped up in a bigger, if not even more significant, fashion than Peterson

“The older that I did get, if I wanted to play this game for much longer than I planned on playing, I did feel that move was going to be necessary,” Peterson said. “I feel like it’s a great move for me at this state of my career. We’ve got some really, really good corners on this roster that I feel can really feel can be the cornerstone of this team here in the future. This might be my second career.”

And there were two plays on the lone Ravens touchdown drive that stood out. He got turned around by Gus Edwards after overpursuing and failing to break down. Then, he did not mean Isaiah Likely with enough physicality, and he ran Peterson right over a touchdown. If this is going to be a long-term move, Peterson has to be better. That’s a must. Otherwise, the move has no long-term value. You can not play at safety without being willing to stick your face into the fan, and Peterson knows that. It will be interesting to see how that evolves. If Peterson wants to make it work, his tackling must improve.