The 2023 NFL Draft is in the rearview mirror and there are still plenty of quality NFL free agents available with starting-caliber talent at every position. For teams needing a cornerback, Marcus Peters stands out as one of the best players remaining in NFL free agency.
Peters, the 6-foot cornerback, is entering his age-30 season. A former four-time All-Pro selection, most recently in 2018, doesn’t make as many plays as he used to. However, proven defensive backs remain valuable in a pass-happy league and there are quite a few NFL teams who should be interested in signing Peters for the 2023 season.
- Marcus Peters career stats: 92 pass deflections, 32 interceptions, 11 forced fumbles
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Because the NFL Draft is now over, free agents are no longer tied to draft-pick compensation. As a result, a team can sign Peters or any other free agent without negatively influencing their final numbers when the NFL calculates compensatory picks for the 2024 NFL Draft order.
It eliminates one of the reasons why Peters, along with so many other free agents, weren’t signed in the early months of the NFL offseason. As teams now look to make final additions to their roster before the 2023 NFL season, the market for Peters should start heating up.
With that in mind, here are the four teams who should pursue Marcus Peters in NFL free agency.
Evaluating best fits for Marcus Peters in 2023
Before examining the best fits for Peters, it’s important to look at his performance last season with the Baltimore Ravens. In his age-29 season, Peters allowed a 116.3 passer rating when targeted in coverage (Pro Football Focus). While he still has a penchant for giving up big plays – four games with 50-plus receiving yards allowed – he can still hold his own as a No. 2 cornerback.
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Ultimately, Peters needs to find a home with a team who has a solid pass rush. If the front seven can create consistent pressure, it forces the quarterback to take more risks. That’s where Peters thrives. Looking around the league, there are a few destinations that stand out.
Returning to Baltimore might seem unlikely after the club signed Rock Ya-Sin. However, recent years have likely taught the Ravens about the importance of having quality depth at cornerback. Behind Ya-Sin and Marlon Humphrey, there aren’t any true standouts who Baltimore should feel extremely comfortable starting on the boundary and matching up against top receivers. Peters knows the Ravens’ scheme, he’s been very successful with this coaching staff and there would be no issues with bringing him back into the locker room. On a one-year deal, bringing Peters back to Baltimore makes sense for both sides.
The Minnesota Vikings recognized after last season that their defense needed to be overhauled. So, Brian Flores was brought in as defensive coordinator and the front office made significant changes with the secondary. Byron Murphy Jr has shown flashes of the ability to be a high-end cornerback and 2022 second-round pick Andrew Booth Jr. is returning from a season-ending knee injury. Minnesota also spent the 102nd pick on Mekhi Blackmon, but this team needs a veteran. Peters can provide experiences that Blackmon and Booth Jr. can learn from, helping mold the Vikings’ future starting cornerbacks. Just as importantly, he brings the physicality, instincts and size that Flores needs from his defensive backs for his defense to work.
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The Atlanta Falcons have had one of the worst defenses in the NFL for the last two seasons. Fortunately, a change was made at defensive coordinator and the front office completely overhauled the depth chart. A.J. Terrell is a bonafide No. 1 cornerback, but Jeff Okudah’s play with the Detroit Lions doesn’t exactly inspire confidence he can be a high-end starter. Based on the Falcons’ 2023 draft class, this is clearly an organization that wants to challenge for the NFC South title this season. Peters could start opposite Terrell or at the very least challenge Okudah for the starting job. With the improvements made to the front seven, Atlanta will also finally have a pass rush good enough to not leave their cornerbacks on an island with the quarterback standing in a clean pocket.
Getting Chidobe Awuzie back for the 2023 season is a huge boost for the Cincinnati Bengals defense. However, relying on the likes of Cam Taylor-Britt, Mike Hilton and rookie DJ Turner to hold their own in coverage is asking a lot. Lou Anarumo’s work with Cincinnati’s defense proves why he is one of the best defensive coordinators in the NFL. However, the Bengals could allow him to do even more by signing Peters. Plus, Peters would get to compete against his former team twice a year and could have a shot at a Super Bowl ring.