Just prior to the 2019 trade deadline, the Baltimore Ravens traded a fifth-round draft pick and a backup linebacker for then 26-year-old cornerback Marcus Peters. They knew what they were getting — a first-team All-Pro with two Pro Bowls already on his resume.
They also knew they were taking a risk on a player with a checkered past.
Peters did his part, providing the Ravens with strong play down the stretch in 2019 — including picking off three passes and scoring two touchdowns in 10 games — resulting in Pro Football Focus ranking him as the fourth-best cornerback in 2019.
His play tailed off a bit in 2020, though, and his PFF rating dropped from a strong 83.2 to a pedestrian 64.4. That said, his decline in play is far from the only concern heading into the 2021 season.
Peters has played at a high level before, both at the University of Washington and in the NFL. However, he was cut from his college team and traded from the team that drafted him — both in the span of four years.
The statistics show that Peters has been half of the NFL’s best cornerback duo. Strong cornerback play has been an essential ingredient in the Baltimore Ravens’ success over the past two seasons.
As the Lamar Jackson-led Ravens set their sights on a 2021 Super Bowl run, could any of the issues that previously caused teams to discard Marcus Peters crop up again and derail the Ravens’ season?
Marcus Peters’ college concerns
During the 2014 college football season, Marcus Peters played so well that he was discussed as a potential top-10 selection in the NFL Draft. Peters’ off-field actions, however, conspired to torpedo his draft stock.
While the full scope of what led Huskies coach Chris Petersen to cut ties with Marcus Peters is still unclear, we know that it wasn’t his play. We do know, from the words and actions of Peterson and Peters, some of the potential causes.
- The Huskies suspended Peters for a quarter of a bowl game and banned him for a month of offseason training after turning in a final exam.
- Peters threw his helmet and gloves on the sideline of a game as part of “throwing, as my mama would say, a hissy fit.” This occurred after he head-butted an opposing receiver.
- Peters arrived late to the meetings preceding a game against Stanford, causing the team to suspend him for the first two defensive series.
Peters also admits to paying a fine for driving with a suspended license.
Although Peters denied any issues with his coaches, reputable sources pointed to confrontations with Washington’s coaches as the primary reason he was cut.
Prior to the 2014 NFL Draft, NFL Draft analyst Lance Zierlein quoted an NFC personnel director as saying:
"“I wouldn’t take him inside the first two rounds. He’s good, but he’s not that good that I would be willing to deal with his emotional issues.”"
The Kansas City Chiefs didn’t heed that personnel director’s advice.