All the hype and positivity the Cardinals gained coming out of the NFL draft and the national curiosity about how first-year head coach Kliff Kingsbury’s season might play out took a major thumping on Thursday with a report that eight-time Pro Bowl cornerback Patrick Peterson will be suspended for the first six games of the year for violating the NFL’s performance-enhancing drug policy.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter was the first to break the news, initially reporting that Peterson would be suspended for the first eight games of the 2019 season, then clarified it would only be six games, according to league sources. Schefter also reported that Peterson had dropped his appeal.
The report does not specify what illegal substance Peterson is alleged to have used, but the suspension will cost Peterson, a three-time All-Pro, $4 million in lost salary and end his franchise-record streak of Pro Bowl appearances.
According to NFL policy, a positive test for a banned substance in addition to the presence of a diuretic or masking agent in an attempt to dilute the sample or alter the result will result in a six game suspension.
In accordance with NFL rules, Peterson during his suspension cannot:
- Visit the Cardinals’ facility.
- Attend or watch practice.
- Have contact with team personnel.
- Exchange game plan, playbooks, plays or video from an electronic device such as a computer or cell phone.
- Be involved in football-related activities or conversations with teammates away from the facility, including workouts.
- Be a spectator in the stands at home or away games.
- Attend any team or league news conferences.
However, Peterson is allowed to participate in offseason and preseason practices and games, which means he can report to training camp in late July and also partake in the Cardinals’ first round of OTAs which begin on Monday at the team’s Tempe training facility.
Peterson did not attend voluntary team workouts late last month because he reportedly was upset with something someone in the front office had said to him. When asked last Friday if he thought Peterson would attend the team’s upcoming OTA session, Kingsbury said, “I’m not sure about OTAs. Everything is voluntary.”
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Peterson, 28, has started all 16 regular-season games each year he’s been in the league.
Peterson has 387 career tackles to go along with 23 intercepted passes.
With their best cornerback now unavailable until Week 7, when they play at the New York Giants on Oct. 20, Kingsbury, General Manager Steve Keim and defensive coordinator Vance Joseph will use the remainder of offseason workouts and training camp to determine who the starters now will be at the corner positions.
Before the Peterson news broke, veteran free-agent addition Robert Alford was to be the starter on the other side of Peterson. Alford now will likely step into Peterson’s role of covering the opposing team’s best wide receiver, with rookie Byron Murphy competing for the other starting role along with veteran additions Tramaine Brock Sr. and Josh Shaw and holdover David Amerson.
Murphy, a Scottsdale Saguaro product, was the team’s second-round draft pick out of Washington and was rated by the Cardinals as the fifth-best prospect in the entire draft.
Schefter also reports the Cardinals have been aware of Peterson’s pending suspension, which he should be formally an announced by the NFL next week, and he implied that Arizona used the 33nd overall pick on Murphy in the draft because of it.
“He has everything you look for in a corner in our opinion — feet, movement skills, tremendous ball skills for a corner,” Keim said after the draft. “He’s a guy that gets his hands on a lot of balls. He’s been coached well by a friend of mine, Jimmy Lake, up there at the University of Washington. Local kid, so we had a chance to spend a lot of time with him.
“Love the passion, love the intensity. The fact the he was teammates in the past with two guys that we’re very high on in Christian Kirk and Budda Baker certainly went a long way. He certainly fits that mold.”
Last season, Peterson requested a trade from the Cardinals after Arizona’s slow start to the season. He later recanted and apologized to fans during the pro-am at the Waste Management Phoenix Open.
Patrick Peterson had something to say at the Waste Management Phoenix Open.
Just before the start of voluntary veteran minicamp ahead of the NFL draft, Peterson posted several cryptic messages on his social media accounts.
In on post on Instagram, Peterson wrote “I see where we stand!” In another, he shared a photograph of him and several of his former teammates who were let go by the Cardinals with the caption: “My boys told me to watch out for the snakes in the long grass! #savageSZN.”
Peterson, a three-time First Team All-Pro, finished the 2018 season with 54 total tackles, two intercepted passes, one sack and one fumble recovery.
Peterson is under contract through the 2020 season and was set to earn $11.2 million in 2019. His contract will cost the Cardinals $12.5 million in 2020.
This story will be updated.
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