Patrick Peterson has spent his entire 10-year NFL career with the Arizona Cardinals, and chances are, when he does hang up the cleats, he'll be remembered mostly -- if not only -- as an all-time great with the same franchise that drafted him fifth overall back in 2011. An eight-time Pro Bowler and honorary member of the league's All-Decade Team, the star cornerback is a lock for the Cardinals' Ring of Honor. This offseason, however, as he enters the second decade of his career, Peterson could very well suit up in a different uniform as one of the biggest names set to hit 2021 free agency.
At 30, and after a so-so 2020 performance on an average Cardinals defense, the former LSU standout isn't likely to command a top-of-the-market deal, as he once would've. Younger corners like Shaquill Griffin and William Jackson III figure to lead the position in terms of interest league-wide. Even so, Peterson's track record is about as impressive as they come, and there's always a demand for starting-caliber cover men in the NFL. Whatever salary his durable resume gets him, it wouldn't be a shock if at least half the league checks in once free agency officially gets underway.
With that in mind, here's a rundown of Peterson's 15 most likely destinations, sorted by long shots and logical contenders (and be sure to listen to Patrick Peterson talk NFL and more with Bryant McFadden on the 'All Things Covered' podcast):
Colts: They've got the money to make just about anything work, but we're betting they'll try to do more on the offensive side of the ball in order to aid new arrival Carson Wentz. Re-signing Xavier Rhodes isn't out of the question. And neither is drafting a CB early.
Chargers: New coach Brandon Staley would probably love to swap out Casey Hayward or Chris Harris for the more versatile Peterson, and sunny Los Angeles would be nice for the player. But Peterson's going to have clearer opportunities to play.
Jaguars: Like the Colts, they have more than enough cash to entice him. Going back to Florida, Peterson's home state, would be a nice bonus. The issue is, even with an exciting new quarterback on the way, the Jaguars are in long-term rebuilding mode.
Packers: It's not hard to imagine Peterson wanting to give it a go in Green Bay, where Aaron Rodgers and Co. are close to Super Bowl or bust. The Packers, however, have other needs (OL, WR, etc.) and not a ton of money to play with.
Panthers: Peterson would make for a solid veteran addition to a really young, ascending defense, and Carolina seems primed to accelerate its turnaround this offseason. But they might also prefer to pursue longer-term help.
Saints: There isn't a more perfect match in terms of location, team strength and need, etc. Peterson returning to Louisiana to try to win a title would make a great storyline. But New Orleans is so tight against the cap it won't have the flexibility to pay up.
Broncos: After cutting A.J. Bouye, they're hurting for CB depth. They're also not necessarily far off from competing, especially if they can pull off an upgrade at QB. They've got money to spend and a nice surrounding defense to offer.
Browns: Their depth chart is not barren, with former high picks in Greedy Williams and Denzel Ward both in tow. But injuries have dictated they invest more at the position, and with the playoffs now attainable, they could be aggressive in adding proven starters.
Buccaneers: Old friend Bruce Arians runs the show in Tampa Bay, and ex-Cardinals assistant Todd Bowles runs his defense. The Bucs aren't in dire need of a CB upgrade, but they're also all in on running it back. Plus, the Florida connection!
Cardinals: As many suitors as Peterson figures to have, this can't be ruled out. Arizona has expressed an interest in keeping him around for good, and with J.J. Watt on board, it's clear they're trying to win sooner rather than later.
Chiefs: Their secondary, like that of the Bucs, isn't screaming for help. But with Bashaud Breeland headed for free agency, they have an opening on the outside. Their money is tight, but you don't think Peterson might help out for a chance to play in Kansas City?
Cowboys: No one needs CB help quite like Dallas, which could lose Byron Jones and Chidobe Awuzie in consecutive offseasons. The Cowboys have not been reluctant to swing for proven big names recently. Peterson, meanwhile, might like the America's Team scene.
49ers: They've watched him twice a year for 10 years, and with Richard Sherman likely headed elsewhere, they could use another quick fix on the outside. Peterson probably offers even more upside at this point in his career.
Jets: former Cards GM Rob Graves (drafted PP) now in Jets front office.
Washington: Ron Rivera has himself a promising defense in D.C., which could be appealing to Peterson. Money talks, too, and they've got plenty. Washington could use at least one starting corner, and his addition would represent another playoff push.