Marcus Peters only has himself to blame for lack of historic legacy

The list of teams that have worked to rid themselves of Marcus Peters is quite long these days.

Las Vegas Raiders v Miami Dolphins
Las Vegas Raiders v Miami Dolphins / Kevin Sabitus/GettyImages

Fewer players in recent NFL history have the sort of dueling proven track records as cornerback Marcus Peters. It's unfortunate for his reputation and legacy that the two work to cancel the other one out for most fans.

On the one hand, Peters is one of the most gifted corners of his generation, a player with the sort of nose for the ball that can alter the course of a game in an instant. On the other hand, the Las Vegas Raiders became the latest team to decide to move on from him entirely rather than deal with him as a part of the organization any longer.

In short, fewer defenders have provided better on-field production than Peters, and yet NFL franchises have done their best to get rid of him than enjoy the on-field spoils provided by having him around.

In late July, Peters signed a deal with the Las Vegas Raiders to bolster their secondary in the midst of training camp, and he was immediately installed as a starter on the boundary. Through Week 12, Peters had suited up and started every single game for Las Vegas. Yet on Monday, the news broke that the Raiders decided to release him outright instead of holding onto him any longer. Apparently, enough was enough.

The list of teams that have worked to rid themselves of Marcus Peters is quite long these days.

At this point, Peters might have largely run out of rope. After all, the Raiders offered him a line in late July and he took it. A series of one-year deals might be all that remains for Peters in his professional career, and knowing how this last tenure ended—and so many others before it—future employers (read: NFL franchise owners) might scoff at the notion of signing him in the future.

Peters has no one but himself to blame.

Going back to his college days, Peters' mercurial personality and emotional instability have always been part and parcel of the overall package. The University of Washington suspended him for a game but ultimately dismissed him from the team after watching sideline tantrums and heated arguments with coaches go unchecked.

The Chiefs bit on his draft stock in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft and reaped immediate on-field benefits, but those instincts were never in doubt. It's here that the potential of a truly historic legacy showed itself in year one of Peters' career, but it didn't take all that long for the wheels to come off at the professional level as well.

Through his first two seasons in K.C., Peters was not only named Defensive Rookie of the Year after leading the NFL in interceptions (8) in 2015, but he followed that up with a first-team All-Pro honor in 2016. Two years into his career, Peters had 16 turnovers forced to his credit (14 INTs, 2 forced fumbles) and he was being hailed as a future great for the Chiefs franchise.

Peters would only last one more year in Kansas City.

In 2017, Peters' unpredictable temperament led to the closing of his career in K.C. when during a late-season contest, he threw a ref's flag into the crowd following a penalty called on Steven Nelson against the Jets. Peters would get into an argument with an unnamed Chiefs assistant coach that same week and was ultimately suspended for a game. What's amazing is that, in his first game back in the lineup, Peters would pick off two passes from Philip Rivers to be named the NFL's Defensive Player of the Week—a perfect example of the two sides offered by Peters.

It's hard to believe a team with such a positive organizational culture would be forced to deal with such a situation, but it's a testimony to the instability surrounding Peters that the Chiefs would be willing to part with an elite talent on a cost-controlled deal with so much proven in so little time. In 2018, however, the Chiefs did exactly that by trading Peters to the L.A. Rams for a 4th round pick that year and a second-round choice in the 2019 draft.

Peters would go on to play only a season-and-a-half for the Rams before they, too, would trade him before the NFL's trade deadline in 2019 to the Baltimore Ravens for even less—linebacker Kenny Young and a future fifth-round selection.

If there's any caveat to this "dueling" identity, it's that Peters really seemed to find a cultural fit with the Baltimore Ravens. In his first half-season with the Ravens, he had 3 interceptions and returned two of them for touchdowns. He would go on to last three-plus seasons there in Baltimore with a lost year due to an ACL injury in 2021. It's notable that the Ravens wanted him around as long as they did..

It's possible that Peters is far more settled down at this stage in his career and that his removal from the Raiders was more about performance than personality. But Peters also made his own reputational bed a long time ago and he must lie in it. That means that a player once on the verge of true stardom provided fans with reasons to root against him.

It's sad, really, that Peters' instincts couldn't have done all of the talking for him. He's a three-time Pro Bowler and three-time All-Pro who could have put up the sort of long-term career numbers to place him in conversation with other Chiefs pass-defending legends like Dale Carter and James Hasty, Emmitt Thomas and Eric Berry. Instead, he'll have defenders and detractors—just like he's had everywhere else along the way.