June 17, 2024

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Veteran cornerback Patrick Peterson has left little doubt that he will return for the 2024 NFL season. But in his latest tweet, Peterson didn’t seem 100% confident that it will be with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Peterson addressed his NFL future on his X (formerly Twitter) account on January 25.

“In control of my Destiny, Never in Doubt..,” wrote Peterson.

“YEAR 13, Thank You!!! Continuing to persevere while balancing various roles. What lies ahead?

“Year 14… Be Back soon…”

In Control of my Destiny, Never in Doubt..

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YEAR 13, THANK YOU!!! Continuing to persevere while balancing various roles. What lies ahead? 🗣️🎬Year 14… Be Back soon… pic.twitter.com/UiuZeozhIa

— Patrick Peterson /P2 (@P2) January 25, 2024

Peterson spent his first season with the Steelers during 2023. It produced mixed results.

While Peterson was a strong locker room presence and mentor to rookie cornerback Joey Porter Jr., his play was inconsistent. He is also now five years removed from his last Pro Bowl season and will turn 34 in July.

For those reasons and his $9.775 million cap hit, NFL pundits have floated Peterson as a possible cut candidate early this offseason.

Patrick Peterson Under Contract for the 2024 Season
When the Steelers signed Peterson to a two-year contract last offseason, the deal was backloaded. That helped Pittsburgh create more salary cap space for 2023, but the team will pay for it now.

In 2023, Peterson held a $4.225 million cap hit. It’s difficult to speculate, but if the veteran had that cap hit again next season, he’d have a much better chance to remain on the team.

But instead, Peterson’s cap hit will more than double for 2024.

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Still, cutting Peterson probably isn’t a guarantee, especially early in the offseason, because of the cornerback depth the Steelers lack heading into next season. Fellow cornerbacks Levi Wallace, James Pierre, Chandon Sullivan and Elijah Riley will all be free agents in March.

Besides Peterson, Porter is the only Steelers cornerback currently under contract wh0 played more than 50 defensive snaps in 2023.

If the Steelers find additional cornerback depth, Peterson could still have a role with the team at safety. At the end of December, Peterson mentioned switching to safety as a possibility to prolong his career.

Peterson played some safety at the end of the regular season because of injuries and a suspension the Steelers had at the position.

Why Peterson is a Potential Cut Candidate
Still, any argument with Peterson’s future in Pittsburgh seems to end with his contract. The Steelers could save $6.85 million against the salary cap if they cut the veteran cornerback.

According to Spotrac, the Steelers sit more than $14 million over the salary cap as of January 26. The team is going to have to make significant cuts and/or restructure contracts to make room to sign free agents.

If Peterson was guaranteed to make a smooth transition to safety, then keeping him with his cap hit would be more likely. But based on his Pro Football Focus player grades, Peterson didn’t shine at safety.

The Steelers also aren’t expected to be hurting for depth at safety in 2024. Minkah Fitzpatrick, Damontae Kazee, Keanu Neal and Trenton Thompson are all under contract for the 2024 season.

Pittsburgh could also pursue bringing back veteran safety Eric Rowe, who was a key member of the team’s practice squad at the end of the season.

All of this makes Peterson’s future uncertain. He appeared to express that uncertainty on social media.

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