The Arizona Cardinals will reportedly be without one of their best players and defensive leaders for a significant portion of the 2019 season.
On Thursday, ESPN's Adam Schefter reported cornerback Patrick Peterson was suspended for violating the NFL's performance-enhancing drug policy. Schefter noted the eight-time Pro Bowler dropped his appeal and will be suspended for six games.
In addition to the games lost, Peterson will not receive a notable chunk of his $11 million base salary in 2019:
"This is very, very hard for me," Peterson said, according to Kyle Odegard of the Cardinals' official website. "I've obviously never been in this situation before and never wanted my name attached to anything like this."
Peterson is a three-time First Team All-Pro who made the last eight Pro Bowls. The Cardinals selected him No. 5 overall in the 2011 NFL draft out of LSU, and he has 23 career interceptions as a durable force who has never missed a game.
He was effective again in 2018 and finished with 54 total tackles, a sack, fumble recovery, two interceptions and five passes defended last year. Pro Football Focus ranked him as the league's fifth-best cornerback.
The Cardinals are starting a new era with the hiring of head coach Kliff Kingsbury and drafting of quarterback Kyler Murray, but the only way they will make immediate strides after going 3-13 in 2018 is with an improved defense.
They were 20th in the league in yards allowed and 26th in points allowed last year, and it will be difficult to bolster those numbers without arguably the team's top player for so much time.
Arizona will also have to face offensive playmakers such as Julio Jones, A.J. Green, Cam Newton, Russell Wilson and Matt Ryan in its first six games without Peterson when it plays the Detroit Lions, Baltimore Ravens, Carolina Panthers, Seattle Seahawks, Cincinnati Bengals and Atlanta Falcons.