There was some buzz earlier this week when ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler mentioned in an article that the Steelers could potentially “go wild” and target Baltimore Ravens cornerback Marcus Peters in free agency, as well as Philadelphia Eagles cornerback James Bradberry. While neither will happen, the Peters chatter has seemingly picked up similar to the way the idiotic Jalen Ramsey to the Steelers talk did a few weeks ago. And in a way, I get it. The Steelers haven’t had a true, number-one, lockdown cornerback for a while. Joe Haden was that guy for a little bit, and Ike Taylor was able to hold the fort down. But in between were the days of Valentino Blake and Ross Cockrell starting, so the prospect of a big-name cornerback with a past history of success is intriguing. But Peters to the Steelers just simply isn’t going to happen.
For one, he’s already 30 years old. The Steelers typically don’t like to add guys over 30 in free agency on big deals, and Peters is going to be expecting a nice chunk of change. When you consider his age and his injury history (he tore his ACL in 2021 and has dealt with numerous calf injuries, among other injuries in his career) he really doesn’t sound like a guy the Steelers are going to target. With the team likely going to focus on re-signing Cameron Sutton, likely for $10+ million in average annual value, the odds of the team then turning around and throwing a big contract at Peters are slim to none.
And for the record, I would rather have Cameron Sutton than Marcus Peters. Peters has a boatload of interceptions in his career (32 in 104 games played) but he only had one this past season and in general, is on the downside of his career. He had a 65.9 grade from PFF this past season which looks decent on the surface. If you dive into the numbers though, his grade was massively inflated by a 90.5 grade in Week 3 against the Patriots and then a 90.2 grade in Week 11 against the Baker Mayfield-led Carolina Panthers. In Week 15 against the Browns, he had another solid performance by PFF’s metrics with a 72.6 grade. After those three games, his highest-grade individual game this season was 64.9, and he had six games where he graded out below 60. So, his two best games of the season came against a Patriots team where his primary assignment was Nelson Agholor and the Panthers who couldn’t do much of anything this year in terms of throwing the football.
Just a few days before he wrote the Steelers could target Peters, Fowler himself said Peters isn’t a fit for what the Steelers do because he gambles for interceptions and blows coverages. He allowed a passer rating of 113.7 when targeted, and that came on 84 targets. In 2021, he also missed 14 tackles on the season, which isn’t a number you love to see from a cornerback. At this point in his career, he just isn’t a number-one cornerback. He would be a flashy name and would sell jerseys and yeah, sure, it would be fun to steal him from the Ravens. But when it comes to on-field production, Peters is just simply past his prime.
The Steelers usually don’t splurge on free agents to begin with, and I don’t see Peters being the guy they decide to go in on. I’m a little bit leery going off past history just because Omar Khan is now in the head seat as general manager and Pittsburgh brought Andy Weidl into the organization, but I don’t foresee any sort of major changes coming with how the team approaches free agency. Maybe I’ll be wrong, but again, if the team does spend big on a free agent, I highly, highly doubt it’s going to be Peters. Peters is just simply going to be too expensive, a little bit too old, too banged up and no longer talented enough to warrant the money he’s going to want.