Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports says the Arizona Cardinals are "willing to move" star cornerback Patrick Peterson. There will be plenty of teams interested, if La Canfora's report is accurate. The Cincinnati Bengals should be one of those teams.
This is the type of move a team in "win-now" mode makes. Peterson is a high-end player, who is under contract through the 2020 season. He is the fifth-best cornerback in the NFL according to Pro Football Focus.
If Arizona is open to offers, then the Bengals should be willing to offer a substantial package for him. It would probably take multiple picks to land him. I love the draft, but Peterson is worth a first-round pick. The Bengals should be willing to offer a first rounder and a middle round pick to Arizona for Peterson.
NFL teams fall in love with the unknown. Draft picks are valuable, but the Bengals were without multiple first-round picks on Sunday. Billy Price, John Ross, Cedric Ogbuehi, Darqueze Dennard and Tyler Eifert all missed the entire game or a significant part of it due to injury. Picks are unproven commodities. If the Bengals are in win-now mode, shouldn't they be in the market to acquire a star player like Peterson?
The Bengals are 29th in the NFL in total defense. It's hard to envision this roster making a deep playoff run. Opposing quarterbacks would have a lot more to worry about when facing the Bengals if William Jackson III was on one side and Peterson was on the other. We've seen Jacksonville and Denver go deep in the playoffs in recent years with stellar cornerback play and a good pass rush. I know Cincinnati's defensive line struggled last Sunday, but they would be a force with two pro bowl caliber cornerbacks in coverage.
The best part about Peterson is his contract. We aren't talking about a one-year rental. He's under contract through the 2020 season. Peterson will make $11 million in 2019 and $12 million in 2020. He's 28-years-old and hasn't shown any signs of slowing down. He would be a significant upgrade from Dre Kirkpatrick, who could either move inside to the slot or take on a backup role. Darqueze Dennard left Sunday's game with a shoulder injury and he could miss significant time. The Bengals don't have a lot of depth at corner to begin with. Adding Peterson would improve depth and give them a great cover corner for years to come.
Cincinnati's championship window opened slightly this past offseason. The Bengals made uncharacteristic moves, including a trade for Cordy Glenn. They released veterans like George Iloka and Brandon LaFell. They didn't exercise Adam Jones' option. Those were all surprising moves based on their history.
I'm not saying a trade is likely. It's hard to make blockbuster deals, especially in the NFL. I am saying that Duke Tobin and the Bengals should be interested. How many NFL front offices are looking at Khalil Mack's impact in Chicago and kicking themselves for not trading for him? How many organizations are looking at the Los Angeles Rams and wondering how they acquired so much talent? The Rams weren't afraid to go for it. They traded a first round pick to New England this offseason for Brandin Cooks. Cooks wasn't under contract. They gave up a first round pick and signed Cooks to an $80 million contract. Mack needed a new contract too. The Bears signed him to a $141 million deal. Peterson would cost a whopping $23 million for the 2019-2020 seasons.
Could you imagine if the Pittsburgh Steelers traded a first-round pick for Peterson? It would make life harder on every team in the AFC North. New England would be praised if they traded multiple picks, including a first-rounder for Peterson. Those are the teams the Bengals are expecting to compete with. Imagine asking Andy Dalton to go into Pittsburgh in Week 17 and beat a Steelers' defense that had Joe Haden on one side and Peterson on the other.
The Bengals should be willing to part with multiple picks, including a first-rounder if it means landing him. He is a known commodity. Peterson can help this season, next year and the year after. He won't fix all of their flaws, but he would be a significant upgrade to a below-average defense. They would have one of, if not the best cornerback tandem in the NFL under contract for two more years.
Marvin Lewis played it safe when he didn't go for it on 4th-and-1 on the Steelers' 40-yard-line. It was a big decision that backfired. Fans are tired of the Bengals 'playing it safe.' Would anyone blame them for trading for Peterson? Would you be upset if they lost a couple of draft picks, if it meant acquiring a seven-time pro bowler and a three-time all-pro? There's no guarantee that it would work out. It may not lead to a playoff run or even a playoff win, but it would be more proof that they're trying to accomplish their goals.
The Bengals are a good football team. They have a real chance to make the playoffs this season. If they can add an all-pro talent to a playoff-caliber team by just trading away a few unproven draft picks, then they should do it.
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