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Patrick Peterson questions state of DB market, says he'll 'definitely' be ready for 14th NFL season

Patrick Peterson needs a job, but he's not the only veteran defensive back looking for work.

Less than two weeks away from the start of training camp -- Houston's veterans report July 17 -- a number of cornerbacks and safeties are on the open market, many with familiar names, Peterson included.

The three-time All-Pro CB, who was released by Pittsburgh in March and has since been a free agent, mused recently on his podcast that those in the secondary have been secondary concerns to teams this offseason.

"What do you think it is about the corners and the safety market at this day and age?" Peterson his All Things Covered co-host Bryant McFadden. "We know it's a passing league, right? Why do you see so many high-caliber guys who've played at a high level -- defensive backs -- still free agents right now?"

A peek at NFL.com's list of the top 2024 free agents shows that of the 11 players still unsigned, five are active defensive backs: Stephon Gilmore at No. 11, Justin Simmons at No. 37, Adoree' Jackson at No. 58, Micah Hyde at No. 87, Ahkello Witherspoon at No. 94. Steven Nelson (No. 55 in Gregg Rosenthal's ranking) said in June he intends to retire at the age of 31.

That list doesn't even include Pro Bowlers like Peterson, Xavien Howard and Quandre Diggs, who remain without gigs as camp nears.

Aside from Witherspoon, who's entering his age-29 season, what those unemployed defensive backs have in common is they're over the age of 30. That's not to say they're over the hill, as Peterson, a entering his age-34 season, can attest for himself.

"If the phone call happens to come through, I'll definitely be ready to make a team, if that's the case," the eight-time Pro Bowler said. "I know previously I talked about after a certain date I would probably not give it any thought. But honestly, [I'm] just going through the motions, just not really giving it any real hard thought by a chance.

"But like I said, I'm doing what I need to do to stay in shape to be ready if someone does so happen to call my phone."

The former first-round pick of the Cardinals in 2011 has enjoyed an illustrious career, arguably more so than any of the other remaining free-agent CBs. Peterson was voted to the Pro Bowl in each of his first eight seasons and made first-team All-Pro in three of his first five campaigns (twice as a corner, once as a punt returner). His 36 interceptions are the most among active players; last season, he logged two in 18 total games (17 starts) with the Steelers, playing at least 90 percent of defensive snaps in all but one contest. A member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame All-Decade Team for the 2010s, Peterson might just have a gold jacket in his future.

All that gives the veteran some peace and clarity as he awaits his fate in free agency, like so many other aging defensive backs.

"If anything don't happen after this year or me playing another season, I will say I'm one of the lucky ones to leave the game unscathed, not with any major injuries, able to have all of my limbs, no hip problems and things like that," Peterson said. "Knock on wood, if the good Lord blesses me to play another year. But I was just thinking of that, having the ability -- if it is the last ride -- to walk away from the game healthy."

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