The NFL today revealed Arizona Cardinals star cornerback Patrick Peterson will be suspended for the first six games of next season, shining a huge spotlight on what has become a big off-season for him.
Since being drafted by the franchise almost a decade ago, the defensive back has not missed a competitive game and developed into a leading talent in the league.
However, the 28-year-old entered the current off-season with a number of big decisions already to make and they have only increased these with the latest news.
Many believe the eight-time Pro Bowler has the clear ability to reach the Hall of Fame.
And yet he is faced with the very real prospect of an unfulfilled career spent in the desert, where he has appeared in just three playoff games.
Peterson must now consider whether his future lies further afield than Arizona or if new – untested – coach Kliff Kingsbury and rookie quarterback Kyler Murray really can help him reach the Super Bowl.
After being taken with the fifth pick of the 2011 draft, Peterson quickly made a name for himself in Arizona, intercepting a Philip Rivers pass and returning it for a touchdown on his first pre-season play and earning the starting corner spot in his rookie year.
In each of his first eight seasons, the LSU star went to the Pro Bowl and he is a three-time first team All-Pro.
Even as the Cardinals floundered last season, Peterson was still able to perform to such a level that he was a top-five corner in the league’s worst team.
But his performances alone leave him only as a Cards Ring of Honour candidate and still a distant onlooker of the Hall of Fame – meaning the cornerback has a big decision to make on his future.
When it comes to judging whether it is time to move on in search of a team capable of consistently going deep into the playoffs, Peterson should look little further than team mate Larry Fitzgerald.
The receiver has spent his entire career in Arizona, regularly proving himself as a leading talent in the league.
And yet, when it comes to his retirement some pundits believe he is only a ‘maybe’ for the Hall of Fame, having never even played in the Super Bowl let alone won one.
Heading into this year’s draft, rumours swirled that Peterson may be on the verge of a move out of Arizona, with Kansas floated as a potential destination at one stage.
The trade never materialised, which could, given today’s news, have been due to the looming suspension being discussed privately among team and league execs.
But the suspension is not the end for his prospects.
The corner’s explanation for the PED test failure is, according to sources close to him, related to his Type-2 diabetes, with him unknowingly taking a banned substance and leaving him in this position.
While he may miss the first part of the coming season, many teams would still give up plenty to secure a proven starter such as Peterson.
If he is to reach Hall of Fame level by the end of his career, Peterson must now put behind him the failed PED test and forge on, away from Arizona, with a team overseen by proven NFL coaches stars to match his ability.
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