On Wednesday Mike Garafolo of NFL Network reported that veteran NFL wide receiver/kick returner Cordarrelle Patterson, 30, is visiting with the Atlanta Falcons. “The expectation is the sides will have a deal soon,” adds Garafolo.
If Patterson and the Falcons do come to a contract agreement, Atlanta will be acquiring one of the most electric kickoff returners in NFL history. Over the course of his eight NFL seasons, he has returned eight kickoffs for touchdowns and has averaged kissing close to 30 yards per return over the course of his career.
In 2020 he returned 35 kickoffs for 1,017 yards for the Bears (29.1-yard average) including a 104-yard touchdown return. It was the fourth time in his career that he was named first-team All-Pro as a kickoff returner and probably not the last.
ALL the latest Falcons news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Falcons newsletter here!
Patterson is a Former First-Round Pick of the Vikings
Cordarelle Patterson entered the NFL in 2013 when the Minnesota Vikings selected him No. 29 overall out of Tennessee. He played in Minnesota for four seasons, starting 22 of the 64 games in which he appeared. During that time he caught 132 passes for 1,316 yards and seven touchdowns, but most of his big plays came when he was rushing the ball or returning kickoffs, as he averaged 10.7 yards per rush with the Vikings.
In 2017 and 2018 he was employed by the Raiders and New England Patriots, respectively, before spending the past two seasons with the Bears.
All told he has played in 127 games with 216 receptions for 2,087 yards and 10 touchdown catches. He also has 167 career carries for 1,017 yards and eight more TDs. Plus 239 kickoff returns for 7,118 yards and the aforementioned eight TDs. Notably, he has only one career punt return—for nine yards—which came in 2016 with the Vikings.
How Would Cordarrelle Patterson Fit in Atlanta?
But the addition of Patterson has the potential to take Atlanta’s kickoff return game from the outhouse to the penthouse. Consider that the Falcons gained just 409 yards on 20 kickoff returns last year, an average of just 20.5 yards per return, this as compared to the league-worst Miami Dolphins, who averaged a mere 17.9 yards per return.
He would also provide depth at the wide receiver position and likely get some carries as a de facto running back.
Meanwhile, the punt returner job remains open, with wide receiver Chris Rowland and cornerback Tyler Hall potential candidates, though the Falcons figure to add a player with punt return skills at some point in the upcoming draft.
Know too that if Patterson returns just one more kickoff for a TD, he will break the NFL career mark for most kickoff returns for touchdown, a record he currently holds along with Josh Cribbs and Leon Washington.
Several of those returns for touchdown are included in the following highlight reel, apparently created by a Falcons fan who is anticipating the signing:
Follow the Heavy on Falcons Facebook page for the latest breaking news, rumors and content!
• 49ers Join Falcons, Patriots at Justin Fields’ Second Pro Day: Report
• Falcons Sign Ex-Cardinals Tight End
• Former Falcons WR Taylor Gabriel Announces Retirement