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Patrick Peterson hoping to remain in Pittsburgh: 'Question is if the Steelers want me to finish with them'

Eight-time Pro Bowl cornerback Patrick Peterson has no plans to retire heading into Year 14, but he's unsure whether his career will continue in Pittsburgh.

Peterson said on his All Things Covered podcast that the ball is in the Steelers court.

"The question is if the Steelers want me to finish with them. I signed a two-year deal for a reason," Peterson told co-host Bryant McFadden.

Pittsburgh signed Peterson to a two-year, $14 million contract last offseason. He's due to count $9.78 million against the salary cap in 2024, with the Steelers able to save $6.85 million by releasing the veteran.

The 33-year-old corner believes the versatility and availability he showed in Year 1 in Pittsburgh warrants another season.

"I feel great. Me and coach (Mike) Tomlin had a great conversation after the season," Peterson said. "Obviously, I know that you gotta go through your evaluations in the draft and free agency and things like that. But for me, what I was able to do in Year 13, playing different positions, coming into a new environment. I felt my season was very successful, playing 97% of my snaps. Ain't many guys in the league -- 13 years in -- in the secondary, at least that's playing 97% of their snaps -- even young guys. I've shown the ability to be durable. I've shown the ability not only to lead by example but be accountable. I told coach Tomlin at the end of the year when we had our exit meeting, I feel great. My mental is in the right place. My body is in the right place. I want to give it another shot."

After the season, Tomlin was noncommittal on whether Peterson would return. The former first-round pick, who played a decade in Arizona before a two-year stint in Minnesota and one season in Pittsburgh, understands the business aspect of the decision.

"What's the plan? That's for another story because I know that I am older. I know that," Peterson said, mentioning the salary cap is always a consideration for a player at this stage of his career.  

Peterson played about as well as you could expect for a 33-year-old corner. He got beat some early but provided leadership for young players like Joey Porter Jr. Peterson's versatility came in handy as he shifted to safety down the stretch -- albeit his tackling could be better from that position. The question for the Steelers, who need to inject youth regardless of Peterson's situation, is whether the cost to keep the veteran is worth the price.

For his part, Peterson is willing to move to safety full-time if necessary to stay on the field. He made it clear he doesn't want to be a reserve.  

"As you saw this year, I'm open to playing wherever, whenever," he said. "Wherever I can be to help the team, I'm all for it. Except for the bench."

If the Steelers plan to move on, a transaction should happen in the coming weeks, with Peterson's contract having a $3 million roster bonus due the third day of the new league year. Most clubs are willing to cut loose veterans they don't plan to employ to give them a jump on free agency -- a courtesy Peterson's certainly earned.

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