Report: Cards to exercise Peterson's option

Sometimes, having a backup plan comes in handy.

Like when negotiations with a three-time Pro Bowl cornerback don't yield a multi-year contract.

According to a report on AZCentral.com, the Arizona Cardinals will use their club option to keep Pro Bowl cornerback Patrick Peterson under contract through the 2015 season. The story doesn't mention the specific reason why Arizona decided to pick up the option, other than saying it was expected because it keeps Peterson a Cardinal for at least one more year.

Which is true. The decision to pick up the club option isn't surprising. The fact that it was reportedly done at this point, somewhat is.

The Cardinals -- and all NFL teams -- have until May 3rd to decide whether or not to activate the option year for 2011 first-round picks. Peterson went fifth. Team officials have been saying since the end of the season that re-signing Peterson was a priority for the offseason, but what can we read into the Cardinals deciding to exercise Peterson's option more than a month before the deadline?

There are a few things:

  • Arizona is serious about wanting to keep Peterson in a Cardinals jersey for as long as possible. This is a given. To the Cardinals, Peterson is a franchise player who they want to secure to a long-term deal.

  • There's the possibility that negotiations are ongoing but not close to ending anytime soon. The type of contract that Peterson will demand is large and most likely complex. And there's a good chance that the two sides, Peterson's camp and the Cardinals, are still waiting to see what the fair-market value of Peterson will be after this wave of free agency is over.

  • It could have been a sign of good faith. The Cardinals opt to extend Peterson's contract to make sure he doesn't leave after 2014 and Peterson will continue to negotiate until an agreement is reached or the two sides can't see eye-to-eye on a contract.

  • A contract could be close to being finished but won't be finalized until after May 3rd and the Cardinals just wanted to make sure they are protected in case something falls apart, so they picked up the option.

Arizona will do everything in its power to re-sign Peterson to a long-term deal, but it may not be as easy as getting Larry Fitzgerald to restructure his contract. Peterson has been waiting for a big pay day since he got into the league, and he's earned it with three straight Pro Bowl selections and two All-Pro nods. His résumé is worth the money. The question is whether or not the Cardinals will open their wallet for the type of deal Peterson will command. Another question to ponder is whether or not Peterson wants to stay a Cardinal?

This much we know: Arizona wants Peterson to continue playing inside University of Phoenix Stadium for as long as possible and this was the first step. After 2015, the Cardinals can franchise Peterson for two more years if the two don't agree on a contract. That means Peterson will be with the team through 2017, but the likelihood of him returning in 2018 is about as slim as it gets.