It’s been a hot topic of conversation this week amongst both Arizona Cardinals fans and NFL fans in general. With both Richard Sherman and Joe Haden receiving big contract extensions, the focus has now turned to Patrick Peterson and his eventual contract extension. It is assumed that any contract extension Peterson receives from the Cardinals will make him the highest paid defensive back in the league. There are many fans who have asked if Peterson deserves to be the highest paid in the league at his position.
It doesn’t matter — pay him.
Peterson, regardless of where you rank him in comparison to Sherman or Haden, is still a top-five cornerback in the league. More importantly you have to ask what the Cardinals’ secondary would look like without Peterson matched up against the opposing offense’s best wide receiver. What would the Cardinals’ defense look like without a Peterson there for opposing offenses to have to account for? I prefer not to think of it as comparing him to Sherman, but for the sake of discussion, I’ll go there for a minute. Is Peterson as good as or better than Sherman?
I wouldn’t base it completely on that comparison and here’s why.
Sherman primarily plays the left side of the field while Peterson is asked to shadow the opposing offense’s best receiver week in and week out. Many times this leaves Sherman one on one against an inferior wide receiver, allowing him to make more plays on the ball. I am by no means criticizing this strategy as it played a big role in the Seattle Seahawks winning their first Super Bowl. Sherman is obviously an elite NFL cornerback and one of the best in the league if not the best at making plays in the secondary. That said, however, Peterson, to his credit, is one of the best shutdown corners in the game, and at 23 years of age he only figures to improve over time.
The Cardinals went 10-6 in the toughest division in all of sports. They did this despite having a quarterback who struggled mightily the first half of the season. The Cardinals were the first team to win in Seattle in two years, despite four interceptions thrown by Carson Palmer. This team now seems primed to possibly make an extended postseason run in the coming 2014 season. All of that is primarily built on the strength of an elite defense and an improved secondary. This improved secondary is anchored by one of the game’s best young corners whose best years are still ahead of him. Debating whether or not he deserves slightly more than Sherman or Haden is simply nitpicking at this point. The other young elite corners received their contract extensions, and the going rate has officially been set.
Pay the man.
Mike May is an opinion writer covering the Arizona Cardinals for Rant Sports. Follow on twitter, add on facebook or email firstname.lastname@example.org. All emails or social media responses may be used in future articles.