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Free-agent CB Patrick Peterson has 'a lot left in the tank,' would want warning if team sees him as safety

Last year, Patrick Peterson signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers at the opening of free agency. 

This year, several waves have come and gone, and the cornerback seems content to ride a few more before landing with a team.

"From the cornerback position, I think a lot more signings are going to happen toward after the draft, once teams really understand what they have on their roster and what they may need to continue to improve their rosters," Peterson said Thursday on the NFL on Fox podcast. "That's when I believe you'll start to see more guys get picked up. Me and my agent have had conversations with a couple teams. Nothing really serious thus far, but there has been conversations. Like I said, we'll see what happens in the next couple months."

The extended wait in free agency comes after an uneven campaign in Pittsburgh, where Peterson delivered a PFF grade of 58.9 while delivering two interceptions, 11 passes defensed and 42 tackles in 17 games played.

He hasn't reached a Pro Bowl since 2018, but before then, the trip was an annual occurrence for the veteran CB, who, despite being on the back end of the back nine of his career, has the experience that comes with eight Pro Bowls and three All-Pro seasons to offer a team in need.

"I do feel like I still have a lot left in the tank and can provide, not only leadership, but playmaking ability to whatever team desires to have me on their roster," Peterson said. "At this point and stage in my career, going through the free-agent process, I'm just taking it a day at a time."

If Peterson does find a home for 2024, the where is still very much to be determined -- both in terms of the team and the position. 

So long a shutdown corner, he dabbled at the safety position for parts of last season in Pittsburgh, lining up at free safety on 225 snaps and in the box for 117 plays. That's still minimal compared to his 844 combined snaps at the wide or slot corner positions, but it's something to consider as another class of young, speedy CBs prepare to enter the NFL in what would be Peterson's 14th season.

The soon-to-be 34-year-old admitted he enjoyed moonlighting at the position last year and would welcome returning to safety, but he would require warning.

"I don't want to start at safety because that's a different animal back there," Peterson said. "That's a different view back there. If that is the case, I would need to be warned going into the season to get my body, my mental prepared. It's different being at the safety from the cornerback position, having those open-field tackles. As corners, we're used to knifing in and slicing guys down. When you're in the open field as a safety, especially if you're in the middle of the field, that guy's got 24 yards right and 24 yards left of you. There ain't no way to cut him off by any means. You're the last line of defense. So if that is something, I would need notice and probably, you know, get one of these old-time safeties like an Ed Reed or (Troy) Polamalu to coach me up."

Wherever he lines up, Peterson's main two reasons for playing -- his love for the game and "to win a Lombardi" -- remain the same.

For now, the NFL's active leader with 36 interceptions waits.

"If that was the last ride, I'd hate for it to be because I always set the goal out for myself to play 14 years, but we still have time and we'll see what happens," Peterson said.

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