Marcus Peters Free Agency Fits: Giants, Vikings, and Bengals Among Landing Spots for Veteran CB

    Marcus Peters is an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his NFL career. Where are the best fits for the veteran cornerback?

    Jamel Dean and James Bradberry, the top cornerbacks on the 2023 NFL free agent market, each received contracts with salaries around $13 million, below what many projections had anticipated. Meanwhile, mid-tier CBs like Marcus Peters haven’t received much interest during the first few days of free agency.

    With 103 career starts under his belt, Peters is among the most experienced defensive backs remaining on the board. After missing the 2021 campaign following an ACL tear, Peters returned to play 13 games last season, managing one interception and six pass deflections.

    Now 30 years old, Peters isn’t the first-team All-Pro he used to be, but he’s still a usable cornerback, and there should be plenty of teams interested at the right price. Let’s run through the clubs that could target Peters in the coming days.

    Marcus Peters Free Agency Best Fits

    New York Giants

    The Giants took care of their most pressing business before the start of free agency by extending Daniel Jones and franchise-tagging Saquon Barkley. Once legal tampering began, New York also traded for former Raiders tight end Darren Waller and signed ex-Colts linebacker Bobby Okereke to a four-year, $40 million deal.

    Linebacker was a major need for the Giants, so it’s no surprise that they quickly acted to secure a free agent like Okereke. But cornerback could be just as critical, especially after New York ranked 22nd in pass defense DVOA a season ago.

    MORE: Remaining 2023 NFL Free Agents by Position

    Although Adoree’ Jackson is a talented player, he’s probably not a true No. 1 corner. But he’s had to be one for the Giants, given their other options. At present, Cor’Dale Flott and Aaron Robinson — New York’s third-round picks in each of the last two drafts — look like the favorites to compete for the Giants’ second cornerback job.

    Peters could give Big Blue a boost. He offers scheme familiarity after overlapping with current Giants defensive coordinator Wink Martindale — whom Peters called a “real one” — in Baltimore. Martindale prefers to play man coverage and blitz at league-leading rates, and Peters could give New York a playmaker on the back end.

    Minnesota Vikings

    Speaking of coordinators who like to deploy man coverage, new Vikings DC Brian Flores will get rid of Ed Donatell’s zone-heavy scheme in 2023. Like Martindale, Flores will use man coverage and zero-coverage blitzes to create pressure and force turnovers.

    At his best, Peters is one of the more dynamic cover corners in the game. He’s posted at least four interceptions in five of his seven seasons and has scored six touchdowns in his career. In a league where winning the turnover battle is key, Peters can generate game-changing plays.

    Minnesota already signed former Cardinals corner Byron Murphy to a two-year deal, but the club could still afford to add another option. If the season started today, the Vikings would be relying on two relatively inexperienced players — Andrew Booth Jr. and Akayleb Evans — as nickel-package starters. Peters could offer more depth, especially given the injury issues Booth battled during his rookie season.

    The Vikings have next to no cap space, but Peters shouldn’t be expensive. No matter the base value of his contract, Minnesota can ensure that his 2023 cap charge remains low.

    Cincinnati Bengals

    After largely sitting out the first few days of free agency, the Bengals made their big splash on Wednesday night, agreeing to a four-year, $64 million deal with new left tackle Orlando Brown Jr. Cincinnati also re-signed linebacker Germaine Pratt earlier in the week, but the club’s secondary is still in need of work.

    Safety is probably the larger concern for the Bengals at the moment. Jessie Bates III and Vonn Bell both departed via free agency, leaving 2022 first-round pick Dax Hill as the sole starting option. Cincinnati will likely pick up a veteran soon, but they also need to look at corner.

    MORE: 2023 NFL Free Agency Tracker

    Cam Taylor-Britt became a starter by the end of his rookie season and will play on the outside, while Mike Hilton will lock down the slot. But Chidobe Awuzie, who was excellent in his first season as a Bengal in 2021, tore his ACL in Week 8 and might not be at full strength by the start of the regular season.

    Cincinnati could re-sign Eli Apple, who started 30 games in the Queen City over the past two seasons. But there have been indications the Bengals are ready to move on. Peters is just the sort of smart defensive back that defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo could figure out how to best deploy.

    Baltimore Ravens

    While Peters could theoretically change teams this offseason, there’s no reason he can’t stay put in Baltimore. Peters has been a key cog for the Ravens since they acquired him in 2019, and general manager Eric DeCosta spoke glowingly about the veteran cornerback at the Scouting Combine.

    “Marcus is a free agent; he’s a guy that I hold in very, very high regard,” DeCosta said. “I’ve had a few conversations with Marcus’ agent, who is a good friend, and Marcus is a great friend. He and I have communicated.

    “That will be ongoing, but that’s a guy that when you talk about ‘true Ravens,’ guys who have done a lot for your team, for me, for the Ravens over the past four years — Marcus is on that list.”

    MORE: 100 Top NFL Free Agents

    At present, 2021 third-rounder Brandon Stephens — who primarily played safety during his rookie year before transitioning to cornerback in 2022 — is slotted to line up opposite Marlon Humphrey. Baltimore should also be expected to target corner help in the upcoming draft.

    Still, it wouldn’t be the worst idea for the Ravens to bring Peters back into the fold, especially if he comes at a reasonable price. Baltimore likely has most of its focus devoted to working out a solution with franchise-tagged quarterback Lamar Jackson, but Peters could be on the docket.

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