I’m too old and most days too hungover to expend a lot of energy chasing down every single rumor of some superstar possibly coming to the Patriots to chase a ring. Because a guy can’t be disgruntled or expensive or on some lousy team going down fast and looking to jettison cargo before they crash without them being “linked” to New England somehow. And following every rumor down the rabbit hole is a young – and sober – man’s game. Despite what Nintendo says, you don’t gotta catch ‘em all. This is still America.
So I pick and choose which ones seem plausible enough to burn the calories on. I don’t know if I ever once caught into the annual late February “Will the Patriots get Larry Fitzgerald?” hype train, and that never materialized. But the Josh Gordon Express obviously made it to the station on schedule. So you never know. Which brings me to this, which has been out there long enough to seem more and more possible:
That was 48 hours ago. In the immediate aftermath, Patrick Peterson reportedly was swiped right by New Orleans, Minnesota, Pitsburgh, Philly and New England, among others. The Saints pretty much swiped left when they hooked up with Eli Apple, which narrows the field considerably. Scott Zolak, who’s got as much access into the secret underground lair in Foxboro as anybody has confirmed a deal for Peterson is “in play.” A sentiment confirmed by Peterson’s cousin Bryant McFadden:
That alone makes this rumor worth speculating about.
If you know me you know there are two things I know nothing about: dieting and the salary cap. When people talk about the cap, I feel exactly like I do when the mechanic pulls me into the shop to point to the engine and say things like serpentine clusters with destributing callibrators oscillating joints and I just nod at all the jargon without really listening because that’s what I’m paying him to know. So from reading the people who comprehend such stuff, Peterson has a cap hit of $11 million. The Patriots managed to get $5.26 million under the cap, courtesy of the restructuring Stephon Gilmore just agreed to. Making the almost $6 million more it would require for Peterson not out of reach. It could be achieved a number of ways, either through other restructures, trading a player to Arizona or, worst case scenario, releasing someone. The point is, the mathletes who work in One Patriots Place did things with the numbers on Gilmore to make this even a possibility, then can do it again to make it a reality.
As far as what this would do for the defense, it’s immeasurable. As it is, according to Pro Football Focus, the best starting cornerback duo in the NFL is Gilmore and Jason McCourty. (I pause a minute to let that sink in). But the fact remains the defense overall has given up the 6th most passing yards and only Tampa Bay has been exploited for more touchdown passes. Add Peterson into the mix and you set off a chemical reaction that could this instantly transform them one of the best defenses in the league. With a 3-deep cornerback group along the lines of when Denver had Aqib Talib, Chris Harris Jr. and Bradley Roby. Think when Riggs and Murtaugh added Rene Russo in Lethal Weapon 3, except not terrible. Because going by PFF’s metrics, Peterson has the 2nd lowest passer rating against among all qualifiers, an infinitesimal 39.9, which is only 0.3 behind Richard Sherman. And Peterson has played 210 more snaps than Sherman with 513, the 2nd most in the league among corners. Without giving up a touchdown. So he’d be worth a high price in terms of draft capital, players and salary. Especially in a league where great defense has been legislated out of existence.
Furthermore, landing Peterson is exactly the kind of bold, utterly fearless move we’ve come to expect from Belichick at the trading deadline. Him pulling the trigger on a ballsy, zero-fucks-given trade is as much a part of this time of year in New England as Pumpkin Spice Everything and getting fat under your fleece. Consider:
2014: Akeem Ayers
2015: Akiem Hicks
2016: Kyle Van Noy (2016)
2010: Randy Moss
2016: Jamie Collins
2017: Jimmy Garoppolo
It’s practically a tradition, as part of the October landscape as Sexy Pirate Wench costumes. And somehow bringing Patrick Peterson in mid-season would be his crowning achievement. I need this to happen and I need it five minutes ago.