The Minnesota Vikings special teams unit has been a shell of its former self.
Once coveted for having some of the game’s most electrifying returners over the years, the Vikings had one of its worst seasons as a special teams unit, ranking 31st in the league, per Football Outsiders.
Gone are the days of Marcus Sherels and Percy Harvin. However, one recent Vikings return man has called Minnesota’s number for a reunion.
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Cordarrelle Patterson Calls for Reunion With Vikings
Former Vikings 2013 first-round pick Cordarrelle Patterson replied to a tweet from a fan urging him to come back to Minnesota on Thursday morning. Patterson tagged the Vikings’ Twitter account and wrote “Hit my line,” to the team.
Patterson, who has played the past two seasons with the Chicago Bears, proved he is still a menace he can be in the return game, taking a kickoff 104 yards to the house in the Bears’ first meeting with Minnesota. It was Chicago’s only touchdown of the game as the Vikings went on to win 19-13.
Patterson earned his fourth All-Pro nod last season after posting a 29.1 yards per return average. He’s notched kickoff return TDs in each of the past three seasons and has shown he still has plenty in the tank approaching the age of 30 this season.
Patterson has been used sparingly in the receiving game, tallying 31 receptions across two seasons with the Bears. Meanwhile, he has become a weapon at running back, taking a career-high 64 carries for 232 yards last season.
Fox Sports analyst Ron Johnson replied to Patterson’s tweet, saying he “is an asset the #Vikings could use. If used correctly he has Tyreek Hill impact w/ motions & shifts using his speed to find mismatches. Can play RB if needed, jet sweep & explosive KR specialist.”
With the Vikings not re-signing Mike Boone, Patterson could serve double-duty as both a kickoff-return man and a third-down thumper at running back.
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Patterson Could Take a Team-Friendly Deal
Patterson has commanded an average cap hit of roughly $5 million per year since he left the Vikings.
While that is a steep price for a return man, the former Viking could be willing to take a pay cut that would bolster Minnesota’s kickoff return game.
Last year, the Vikings averaged 21.9 yards per return on average with Ameer Abdullah leading the charge with 23.5 yards per return. Patterson taking the lead role on returns could prove to be valuable when considering how often field position killed the offense’s drives last season.
K.J. Osborn, a fifth-round pick in last year’s draft, struggled as both a punt and kick returner last season. The Vikings could bring in Patterson to help mentor Osborn, who could be out of a job if he doesn’t show improvements this season.
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