Cardinals’ Peterson relishes being highest-paid CB in NFL

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Patrick Peterson is the highest-paid cornerback in the NFL.

Just ask him.

Not only did he tweet out the terms of his new contract — five years, $70 million, $48 million guaranteed — he referred to himself as the highest-paid at his position at least five times in the Arizona Cardinals news conference announcing the new deal on Wednesday — twice before he was ever asked a question.

He’s long maintained he’s the league’s best cornerback. Now he says has higher goals — the playoffs, a Super Bowl title, the Hall of Fame.

And Peterson doesn’t speak as if he’s boasting, rather just a matter of the facts.

In just three years, he has become, as he put it, “a face of the organization.”

“He’s earned it,” Cardinals president Michael Bidwill said, “and I agree — he’s the best defensive corner in the league.”

Peterson is the first of the 2011 draft class to sign a second contract. He had two years left on his previous deal after the Cardinals picked up his fifth-year option.

“It shows that we’re a first-class organization,” Peterson said. “We want to get the job done. We want to win, that’s the most important thing.”

By tweeting out his deal, Peterson made sure everyone knew his contract was bigger than that of Seattle’s Richard Sherman. The two have carried on a Twitter rivalry for some time.

Sherman signed a four-year, $56 million contract — $40 million guaranteed — earlier this year.

Peterson rubbed it in with a tweet on Wednesday that said “You mad bro!!!” followed by five faces crying.

Sherman responded with a close-up photo of his Super Bowl championship ring and said “Can’t ever be too mad.”

“I don’t have any beef with Richard,” Peterson said at the news conference. “I’m having fun. I don’t know if he’s having fun, but I think it’s going to make me take my game to the next level.”

He noted some of Sherman’s tweets are “a little salty.”

“I guess it will be must-watch TV when we play Seattle,” Peterson said.

It’s the second-largest contract in Cardinals’ history, exceeded only by the eight-year contract worth up to $120 million — with nearly $50 million guaranteed, that Larry Fitzgerald signed in 2011.

Peterson doesn’t cover a particular part of the field, as Sherman does, but is assigned to the opponent’s best receiver, wherever he lines up.

“Twenty-four years old, 48 straight starts,” Cardinals general manager Steve Keim said. “In my humble opinion there isn’t another corner in the league that has his size, speed, athleticism, explosiveness, ball skills.

“On top of that, Pat will probably be the first to tell you he hasn’t even scratched the surface yet, which is actually scary considering the fact that he could redefine the position.”

Peterson said “it’s a big deal” to have the biggest contract at his position.

“I think I have done a lot in my young career to be recognized not only as the best cornerback in the league,” he said, “but as the highest-paid cornerback in the league. I think my body of work is only going to get better.”

Peterson said the contract won’t mean an added burden.

“Honestly, I don’t think my responsibilities have grown,” he said, “because I’ve been the guy that wants to get better each and every day. I want to be the guy who leads this team. I want to be a face of this organization. I have accomplished that in my first three years. Now it’s getting championships.”

Peterson, who turned 24 on July 11, has made the Pro Bowl each of his three NFL seasons after Arizona selected him with the fifth overall pick in the 2011 draft. He made it as a punt returner in his rookie season, and as a cornerback the past two years. He and Sherman were first-team All-Pro last season.

“He’s very, very mature,” Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said. “I don’t like using that role model word, but he’s a perfect citizen.”

Peterson has become a mentor for safety Tyrann Mathieu, who also went to LSU and had marijuana-related problems before coming to the NFL last year and excelling as a rookie before going down with a late-season knee injury.

Now, Peterson said, it’s time for him to aim for more.

“I want to be in the Hall of Fame someday,” he said. “I have bigger goals than a massive contract. I haven’t been to the playoffs since I’ve been here. I had one winning season since I’ve been here. I want to bring a championship to this city, to this organization. I want to hoist that Lombardi Trophy.”

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