When he was brought over from New Orleans, Terry Fontenot was heralded for his ability to sift through bottom-of-the-barrel free agents and find contributors. His best work with the Falcons came in the form of a nine-year veteran that signed a one-year, $3 million deal last offseason — Cordarrelle Patterson.
The former return specialist turned into a do-it-all player in Arthur Smith’s offense. He led the team in rushing (618 yards) and total touchdowns (11) while racking up the third-most receiving yards (548). The Falcons’ investment in Patteson can only be seen as a resounding success for the front office, coaching staff, and Patterson himself.
Unfortunately, this career year could effectively price Patterson out of Atlanta this offseason as he hits free agency. Even though he’s made it abundantly clear through multiple mediums that he’d like to retire with the Falcons, the NFL is a business, and I do not expect Fontenot to overpay for Patterson’s services.
Patterson made himself quite a bit of money this season if he so chooses to cash in on his breakout campaign. There should be a robust market for the Rock Hill, South Carolina native.
Over The Cap has Patterson valued at $8.8 million, which will undoubtedly price him out of Atlanta. Because of his age and major role in the Falcons offense, it is almost a guarantee that he regresses in 2022. But at what price would the Falcons balk at? Josh Kendall of The Athletic thinks that figure is below OTC’s valuation.
“If someone steps up with a deal in the $7 million range, it will be hard for Atlanta to match that, considering its salary-cap constraints and other areas of need. Basically, everyone in Atlanta will miss Patterson if he’s with another team next year, but everyone also needs to prepare themselves for that possibility.”
If a team gives Patterson a deal worth $7 million per year, he would be just outside of the top-10 highest-paid running backs. I would be shocked if a general manager gave him that kind of money, but there are plenty of poverty franchises that would do something like that — i.e., Texans, Jaguars, etc.
I see Patterson signing a multi-year deal with more guaranteed money than 2021 but less than OTC’s projection — somewhere in the $4.5-6 million range. Everyone, including Patterson’s mother, wants him to re-sign with the Falcons, but I don’t see it happening unless he takes less money to stay with the team that gave him a chance to be something other than a return specialist.