4x All-Pro Hints Interest in Returning to Vikings

Cordarrelle Patterson

Getty Cordarrelle Patterson vs. the Miami Dolphins.

Former Minnesota Vikings first-round pick Cordarrelle Patterson is ready for a reunion.

The four-time All-Pro kick returner recently liked a series of tweets signaling his desire to return to Minnesota after five seasons away from the team that drafted him No. 29 overall in 2013.

And after the Vikings parted ways with the Mike Zimmer-Rick Spielman regime that failed to unlock Patterson’s potential and utility in the offense, this offseason seems more likely those calls for a reunion could be entertained.

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Patterson’ Waiting for Free Agency’

Coming off a career year at the age of 30, Patterson realized his potential with the Atlanta Falcons, who finally heeded the Tennessee product’s calls to use him as a hybrid player in the offense.

The Chicago Bears and New England Patriots flirted with the idea of using the Tennessee product on designed runs, but the Falcons, Patterson’s fifth team of his career, were the first to truly give him the workload in the backfield.

Patterson posted career highs in nearly every offensive category — carries (153), rushing yards (618), rushing touchdowns (6), receptions (52), receiving yards (548) and receiving touchdowns (5).

A positionless player, Patterson’s involvement proved difficult to game plan against, unlocking his efficiency as a pass-catcher as well. He posted a career-best 7.9 yards per target.

“It feels like I haven’t been doing enough these last, past eight years,” Patterson told ESPN. “This year, every year is just a blessing. We know football don’t last long, so every year is a blessing to come here and just to showcase myself and just show the team what I can do to help this team win.”

He matched the highest approximate value, a metric designed by Pro Football Reference that assigns a number value to a player’s performance each season of their career, dating back to his rookie season when he scored three rushing touchdowns, four receiving touchdowns and returned two kickoffs for TDs.

Coming off the best season of his career, Patterson is eager for free agency, liking a series of tweets calling for his return to Minnesota.

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‘Zimmer’s Gone. It’s Safe to Come Back’

One tweet Patterson liked conjures up the past missteps of the Vikings poked fun at the fact the old regime of Zimmer and Spielman is gone.

Speaking on the Move the Sticks podcast, Spielman hinted that Zimmer was unwilling to adjust to his players’ talents, instead deeming them unfit for the team.

“Some coaches are just, ‘This is what we run, and this is what we have to have, and if they don’t fit this, then I don’t want them,'” Spielman said. “Some coaches — and just listening to a lot of coaching interviews and stuff like that — [say], ‘I can do this with this player, and I know we can potentially adjust our scheme to fit what he does best.'”

Patterson is a prime example and a rare player that Spielman uncharacteristically traded up to get in the 2013 draft. The Vikings traded the Patriots second-, third-, fourth- and seventh-round picks to climb back into the first round and select Patterson at No. 29 overall.

However, Patterson’s potential was capped as the Vikings staff saw him as a wide receiver and not a versatile weapon. His explosiveness was evident from his abilities as a kick returner, but it took five more seasons after this departure for a team to finally unlock his true potential.

While Patterson’s rise this season is notable, the Vikings are set at kick returner with rookie Kene Nwangwu. They may not have room in the offense to justify signing Patterson for anything more than a veteran minimum — a far cry from the $8.8 million OvertheCap appraised the soon-to-be 31-year-old who still has low miles as a runner.

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