Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson has been suspended for the first six games of the 2019 season, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter). The ban, a result of a violation of the league’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs, will cost $3.88MM and impact P2’s remaining guarantees. Peterson has already dropped his appeal, so this suspension is already set in stone.
The six-game ban will keep Peterson off the field until Oct. 20, when the Cardinals face the Giants in East Rutherford, New Jersey. That means Peterson, one of the league’s very best cornerbacks, will be sidelined for contests against the Lions, Ravens, Panthers, Seahawks, Bengals, and Falcons.
This is a crushing blow to the Cardinals, who are looking to rebound from a league-worst 3-13 record in 2018. It’s also another weird twist in the ongoing saga between the franchise and Peterson.
Peterson demanded a trade in 2018, though he apologized for his outspokenness in January and said he’s in Arizona “to stay.” But, tensions resurfaced in April amidst speculation that the cornerback wanted out yet again.
Typically, first-time PED violations result in a four-game suspension, but there are instances in which a first-time offender can be banned for additional games. For example, if a PED violation is found through means other than a drug test (known as a “non-analytical positive” in the NFL’s bylaws), a player can be suspended for six games.
Last year, Peterson extended his games played/started streak to 128 and tallied two interceptions, five pass deflections, one sack, and 54 tackles. He earned his eighth consecutive Pro Bowl nod and graded out as Pro Football Focus’ No. 5 ranked CB in the NFL, edging out Jason McCourty, Kyle Fuller, Bryce Callahan, Prince Amukamara, and Jonathan Joseph. Only Stephon Gilmore, Desmond King II, Chris Harris Jr., and Levi Wallace placed ahead of him.
Furthermore, opposing quarterbacks avoided him like the plague. Peterson was the nearest defender to the targeted receiver on just 10.4% of the coverage snaps he played last season, the fourth-lowest rate among cornerbacks with at least 300 coverage snaps (h/t Seth Walder of ESPN.com, on Twitter).
Peterson, a three-time first-team All Pro and eight-time Pro Bowler, is signed through the 2020 campaign thanks to the five-year, $70MM+ extension he inked with the club in 2014. He’s slated to carry cap numbers of $11.9MM and $13.184MM in each of the next two seasons.
Without Peterson, the Cardinals are left with a CB group headlined by David Amerson, Robert Alford, second-round pick Byron Murphy, and Tramaine Brock.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.