So now we know why Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson was pissed at the team. They refused to convert a large chunk of his $11 million to something other than base salary, which would have allowed him to reduce the $3.88 million he’ll lose during his six-game PED-and-masking-agent suspension, possibly dramatically.
Peterson cheated, tried to cover up the cheating, got caught cheating and trying to cover up the cheating, and then wanted the team to help him essentially cheat the system through not-so-creative accounting practices.
The last part is legitimate, a financial loophole that the league has never bothered to try to close. But it was smart for the Cardinals to say no.
First, the Cardinals are saving $3.88 million, in both cash and cap space. Second, the Cardinals have more flexibility regarding Peterson’s future. Because he won’t be on the active roster when the regular season begins, Peterson’s 2019 base salary won’t be fully guaranteed. If they decide to move on from him during or after the six-game suspension, they can.
The situation nevertheless has contributed to hard feelings between player and team, and it could be that the Cardinals will have no choice but to trade him. While he’s far less attractive to a new team in light of the suspension, the Cardinals will have a couple of weeks after the suspension ends to shop him to another team that may think Peterson will help make a difference down the stretch.
Regardless of how it plays out, Arizona has real leverage over Peterson’s future, and his future has suddenly become far less bright — especially if after eight NFL seasons he’s at the point where he feels compelled to use PEDs to try to compete with his peers.