The Falcons have had several great free agent signings over the years. Alex Mack came to Atlanta and led the offensive line to the Super Bowl while punching a ticket to the Pro Bowl multiple times. Cordarrelle Patterson most recently turned a one-year, $3 million deal into a two-year, $10.5 million contract after a career year in 2021.
Patterson set career highs in receiving, rushing, and total touchdowns — 618 rushing yards (4.0 YPC), six rushing touchdowns, 548 receiving yards (10.5 YPR) and five receiving touchdowns. He was actually the first player in franchise history to record 500 rushing and receiving yards. And even despite the pay raise to $5 million AAV, Patterson’s new deal is being considered the Falcon’s best contract, according to PFF.
Cornerback Casey Hayward Jr.’s two-year, $11 million pact signed this offseason was also in consideration here, as he looks to mentor and create a formidable duo opposite rising star cornerback A.J. Terrell. His transition to a different defensive scheme will be interesting to monitor, but the savvy veteran will more than likely figure it out in short order.
Cordarrelle Patterson, on the other hand, is as comfortable as can be in Arthur Smith’s offense entering Year 2 after a true breakout campaign predominantly at running back. Patterson earned a career-best 81.3 grade in 2021, fighting for three yards per attempt after initial contact by a defender, a top-20 mark in the league.
It also doesn’t hurt that he has a legitimate case as the best kick returner in NFL history to boot.
Despite who PFF believes the Falcons best contract is, I think by the end of the season, Hayward will be considered the best contract because of the impact he’ll make on the field and in the cornerback room. I’ve talked at length about how I believe Patterson could be in line for serious regression.
Patterson is coming off a season where he recorded the best numbers of his career; however, that also means he had the most offensive touches of his career too, which certainly takes a toll on the body. It seems the Falcons are already taking steps to address those issues too, as they’ve implement personalized offseason training for the veteran.
Given the running back additions, I think Patterson is in line for regression. Atlanta added Tyler Allgeier, Damien Williams, and Avery Williams to the backfield this offseason, so I wouldn’t be shocked if Patterson’s role shrinks in 2022. The team just won’t have to depend on him as much, so his touches should drop. Add in the fact that the Falcons clearly want to keep him fresh all year; again, his numbers will suffer. His final four games of the 2022 season were an example of exactly what that type of burnout can do to a player; that four-game stretch was quite atypical compared to how he’d done all year, which could’ve been due to the massive workload. I’d expect at least100 yards less receiving and rushing as well as a significant drop-off in total touchdowns this season.
Photographer: Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire