The Pittsburgh Steelers agreeing to terms with a 33-year-old free agent, regardless of position, was somewhat out of character. Barring special circumstances, such as a summer injury, they haven’t indulged in veterans in their 30s for some time.
They made the exception in the case of Patrick Peterson, though perhaps in his case, too, there was in part a special exception. It was reported earlier in the day that Cameron Sutton agreed to terms with the Detroit Lions, so if they were hoping to re-sign him, they needed to move on.
But this is no retirement home for Peterson—even if he expressed the desire for this to be his last stop. Speaking on his All Things Considered podcast, he said he hoped as much. “Honestly, my goal was to play 14 seasons, and if we’re able to iron out the details and the years that I would like in this contract, probably so,” he told his co-host and cousin Bryant McFadden about finishing his career in Pittsburgh.
Not that that was his goal going into free agency or that he was running away from anything. Indeed, he was very complimentary about his time with the Minnesota Vikings and was rather open about the fact that his last destination could have been where he already was.
“I definitely wanted to go back to Minnesota,” Peterson said. He added that before agreed to terms with the Steelers, he went back to the Vikings front office. ” ‘Are you sure? Like, this is what I want. I want to come back.’ We just can’t make it happen.”
They didn’t, or at least they haven’t yet—again, deals aren’t official until they’re submitted to and approved by the league office—but it seems clear that part of the story is over. “It was all clean, good, adult man business, how it’s supposed to be,” Peterson said.
Now he moves on to his third team after a decade in Arizona, two years in Minnesota, and finally perhaps two in the Steel City. That’s where his reported contract will take him, at least—to the end of his desired 14 years of football in the NFL.
“Pittsburgh is one of the more storied franchises in the league. Why not want to be a part of something like that to finish off my career?” he asked.
As is always the case in these situations, though, minds can be changed. What if in two years at age 35 he feels like he can still play, has proven as much up to that point, and the Steelers want to keep working with him? Would he turn down another one-year deal? I’m sure neither party could answer that right now.