Photo by Jeffrey Beall of Wikimedia Commons
The Atlanta Falcons signed running back/wide receiver/kick returner Cordarrelle Patterson Thursday morning, filling a gap in the team's kick return game.
According to ESPN Staff Writer Michael Rothstein, the Atlanta Falcons signed all-purpose player Cordarrelle Patterson to a one-year deal worth $3 million.
This signing is big for the Atlanta Falcons, who have not received a whole lot of help in the return department since Devin Hester was released after the 2015 season. Patterson is a big upgrade to the Atlanta Falcons special teams and offense, and will make an immediate impact in changing the field position for the Falcons.
Patteson led the league in kickoff return yardage last season with 1,017 yards. By comparison, the Atlanta Falcons kick returner last season, Brandon Powell, only tallied 343 yards. Patterson returned a kick for a touchdown on Monday Night Football against his old team, the Minnesota Vikings, in week 10 of the season. Powell had zero touchdowns. Powell is not a bad returner, but the comparison is night and day between these two athletes. The Atlanta Falcons will look for Patterson to replicate that success again this season and give the team a much needed boost on special teams.
Patterson is considered among the NFL's greatest and most consistent kick returners.
With the kickoff rules changing a couple of years ago in an effort to help decrease the chance of injury, the art of the kick return has been all but dimished. What was once one of the most exciting aspects of the game, quickly dwindled into the least exciting. With that being said though, one man has continued to electrify stadiums and excite fans from every city, regardless of this rule change. That man is Patterson.
Over the course of his career, Patterson proved to be arguably the greatest kickoff return man in NFL history. He holds the NFL record for the longest kick return touchdown ever at 109 yards. A fun fact about this kick return is 109 yards is the longest possible return a player can have given the length of the field. He accomplished this feat as a rookie. Patterson is also currently the holder of the most kickoff return touchdowns of all time, tied with fellow returning greats Joshua Cribbs and Leon Washington at eight. At times last season it felt as though the Atlanta Falcons never had good field position, but that should change with the signing of Patterson.
While his kick returning ability is certainly the biggest part of his game, his skill set can also be utilized on offense.
Patterson has proven throughout his NFL career that he can be dangerous on the offensive side of the ball. For his career, Patterson has caught 216 passes for 2,087 yards and 10 touchdowns. Aside from his pass catching ability, he has also proven to be a dangerous threat at the running back position, where he lined up a great deal last season with the Chicago Bears. Patterson ran for 232 yards on 64 rushing attempts last season, and has run for a total of 1,017 yards for his career on the ground.
This is a guy that can line up anywhere offensively for the Atlanta Falcons and opposing teams will have to make it a point to watch out for him. Pairing him up with wide receiver Russell Gage could greatly improve the team's offensive production. Gage threw a 39-yard touchdown to Calvin Ridley last season against the Los Angeles Chargers from the wildcat formation, a formation that Gage has grown accustomed to over his career. Having both Gage and Patterson on the roster, two guys with versatile skill sets who are no strangers to trickeration, will be a much needed boost to the explosiveness and unpredictability of the team's offense.