TEMPE, Ariz. -- A minor hubbub -- not haboob (that’s a ginormous dust storm) -- engulfed Arizona today when Cardinals star cornerback Patrick Peterson didn’t shoot down the idea of holding out next season until he receives the type of new contract he wants from the team.
Before I give you my opinion (which you can gauge from the headline), let me first provide some background. Peterson just finished his third season with the Cards, playing under his rookie contract -– a four-year deal worth $18.5 million signed after he was drafted in 2011. Under the new CBA –- to which Peterson was also a victim because it limited his signing bonus -– players can start renegotiating their contracts after Year 3 of their rookie deal, which for Peterson is this offseason.
Representing Peterson in the negotiations will be Joel Segal, whom he hired late in the season after firing Pat Lawlor. According to Forbes, Segal's agency, Lagardère Unlimited, is the third-most valuable in the world. However, one of Segal's highest-profile clients, Tennessee running back Chris Johnson, was a holdout in 2011, missing all of training camp and the first three preseason games. If Arizona and Peterson can't agree on a megadeal, will he hold out?
“I can’t speak on that right now,” Peterson told Pro Football Talk on Tuesday. “Me and my agent, we haven’t talked about some of those possibilities. But hopefully we can get something done. If something were to happen, we restructure my deal or anything like that, we’ll have to wait and see what happens.”
Peterson told me last week his camp hadn’t heard from the Cardinals yet about discussing his future with the team. But when I heard that Peterson didn’t shoot down the idea of holding out in 2014, I instantly went right back to a comment he made to me. He said he loves playing football so much that he doesn’t like bye weeks because it’s a few days away from the field.
If Peterson can’t handle two days away from football, how would he tackle a few weeks or months away? The answer is short: He won’t. I don’t think Peterson holds out, even from OTAs and minicamps, regardless of how much money is on the table. There’s nothing that said a deal has to be made this offseason. He can play out 2014, maybe make another Pro Bowl, maybe become an All-Pro, and then enter talks with the Cardinals in 2015 or run the risk of Arizona exercising the team-option fifth year. But I don’t see him not suiting up in 2014 if he doesn’t have a new contract signed.
It’s not who Peterson is. It’s not who he wants to be. The longer Peterson is in the league, the more you can see him grow as a player, an athlete, a professional and a businessman. Sitting out a year would tarnish his perfect reputation and could cost him critical endorsement dollars. Who wants a player not playing to pitch a product?
Although he might be young enough where his agent might be able to talk him into it, Peterson has the maturity of a veteran and carries himself in a way that exudes an old soul.
But Peterson knows he’s about to get paid. The potential talks got interesting in late November, when he fired Lawlor in favor of a superagent. The reasoning was because Peterson didn’t feel Lawlor could negotiate a large enough contract.
How big? Lawlor believed Peterson is worth $50 million. All Peterson has done is become a Pro Bowler in his first three seasons and an All-Pro in two of his first three, while establishing himself as not just one of the best cornerbacks in football but one of the most dynamic all-around threats in the game.
He won’t make it four in a row if he holds out.