We should be hearing from Patrick Peterson later today, if all things go right, as the Pittsburgh Steelers PR department announced yesterday that they would “introduce their recent free-agent signees in the media work room” at about 2 PM. No deal has been signed yet, though, so nothing is official, which means minds can change.
But he’s already on record stating, without the benefit of a darkness retreat, that he has every intention of playing for the Steelers, perhaps for the remainder of his career, after failing to work things out to stay with the Minnesota Vikings.
Statistically, he had one of the best seasons of his career a year ago, recording five interceptions and 15 passes defensed to go along with a career high in tackles. So it begs the question, at 33 years old, who are the Steelers getting in 2023?
“The same exact player that they saw last year and more, because I’m in the lab right now working on all the miscues that I felt that I had last year that’s gonna help me become a better player this year”, he told cousin, co-host, and fellow (former) Steelers cornerback Bryant McFadden on their All Things Covered podcast.
Peterson did have a strong year overall, even if he might not be quite the same athlete that he was a decade ago. But athletes, even in roles as athletically demanding as cornerback, can age gracefully if they embrace the transition, like a speedball pitcher developing a slider as his velocity winds down.
An eight-time Pro Bowler, he may well be destined for the Hall of Fame, but he’s not done playing yet. He said elsewhere on the podcast that his goal was always to play 14 seasons in the NFL, and the two-year contract he’s expected to sign with the Steelers would bring him to that number. He also has no concerns about his age, saying that “the proof is in the pudding”.
“I know I still can ball. I work and train entirely too hard and different”, he added. “I train different from everybody else across the league. I train and work on things that I’m gonna use and is gonna help me in games. Ain’t doing all that fancy, unnecessary stuff, wasted movement. That’s bad habits”.
The Steelers obviously think Peterson will still be able to play at age 33, which is no small thing given their tendency to shy away from older players on the market. And it might also be worth noting that they chose not to re-sign Joe Haden a year ago when he was turning 33 even if there was no significant downturn in the quality of his play.