The day was designed in March to commemorate Saint Patrick and Irish descendants everywhere – March 17th. The Minnesota Vikings used the holiday to hop into bed with a Patrick of their own, except he had a Peterson attached to the end of his name.
General Manager Rick Spielman welcomed cornerback Patrick Peterson to the Vikings after a decade of Hall of Fame-worthy performance with the Arizona Cardinals. From 2011 to present, Peterson snagged 28 interceptions – the fourth-most in the NFL amid those ten seasons.
Now, he’s a Viking.
The move was wildly unexpected. At the time, Jeff Gladney’s career was trending up while Cameron Dantzler dazzled, leading all rookie cornerbacks in performance during the pandemic season per Pro Football Focus. Indeed, dozens of free agents are rumored with “links to the Vikings” inside any free agent period, but Peterson was never really one of those names in March. His salary demands seemed a bit lofty for the cash-strapped Vikings, an adjective no longer attached to Spielman’s crew. Minnesota owns about $14 million in cap space as of June 21st.
Suddenly, the Vikings utilize tremendous depth in the cornerback room. This is no surprise to followers of Mike Zimmer as the joke often implies that Minnesota’s skipper, left to his own devices, would employ 11 cornerbacks on the field at any given time. That’s hyperbole, but Zimmer does love his corners.
Peterson, Dantzler, perhaps Gladney, Bashaud Breeland, Mackensie Alexander, Harrison Hand, and Kris Boyd will patrol the Vikings 2021 secondary with Harrison Smith and Xavier Woods lurking in the backdrop at safety. It’s quite the forecast for a defense that ranked fourth-worst in the league for points allowed in 2020. Consider it an offseason rags to riches.
Not everyone is sold on Peterson’s fit with the Vikings, though. Kristopher Knox of Bleacher Report classifies Peterson as “one player who could disappoint” for the 2021 Vikings. Knox nominated one man from each NFL team for this forecast, and it was Peterson for the Vikings. Knox explained:
“New Minnesota Vikings cornerback Patrick Peterson has had a Hall of Fame-caliber career to this point, and he should help improve the team’s 27th-ranked pass defense. Minnesota was wise to sign him in the offseason. At the same time, though, Peterson could struggle to live up to his profile and his price tag in 2021. The Vikings inked the eight-time Pro Bowler to a one-year, $8 million deal that includes $5.9 million in guarantees. What they’re getting is a 30-year-old defender who has been merely average over the past couple of seasons. In 2019 and 2020, Peterson allowed an opposing passer rating of 99.2 and 98.2, respectively. His best days as a cover corner appear to be behind Peterson, and that should be disappointing to anyone hoping to see the Pro Bowl version of Peterson in Purple and Gold this season.”
While it’s within the realm of possibility that Peterson flounders, the stakes for his success are quite slim. If it is evident in the season’s first half or so that Peterson ain’t it, well, Zimmer has Dantzler, Alexander, Breeland, Hand, and Boyd to pick up the slack. Unlike last year – when the depth was horrendously skinny – the Vikings defense is peppered with depth in spots this go-round.
And, Peterson is only financially committed to the franchise for one year. It’s a trial run. Should he blow the big glass doors off U.S. Bank Stadium and adore the team – he can stay longer. If he actionizes Knox’s prophecy, the team doesn’t lose out on much.
Too, examine Peterson’s All-Pro resume. The man does not have a history of disappointing.