Depending on who you ask, the first year under head coach Arthur Smith and general manager Terry Fontenot could be viewed as a resounding success or disappointment. There are points to be made on each side, but what isn’t up for debate is the breakout season of Cordarrelle Patterson, who has gone from strictly a return specialist to a multi-faceted offensive weapon overnight.
Smith and Fontenot have to be given some credit for their vision for Patterson, but it will be Patterson who reaps the rewards this offseason. He’s set to hit unrestricted free agency after signing a one-year, $3 million contract with Atlanta last spring and will undoubtedly bring in the biggest payday of his career.
I, for one, am ecstatic for Patterson. This hasn’t been an easy year for many Falcons, but he’s spread nothing but love ever since he put on the red and black uniform. He’s even stated several times that he would love to spend the rest of his career in Atlanta. But for that to happen, the Falcons will have to open up their pockets, something they may not be able to do.
Right now, Atlanta is projected to have around $13 million in cap space to begin the offseason, but they only have 29 players under contract. That’s not a lot of room to work with, meaning there’s a chance Patterson has already priced himself out of Atlanta. Still, the Falcons will do everything in their power to keep him here; this sweatshirt even magically popped up in his locker on Wednesday from an unknown source.
Cordarrelle Patterson said this sweatshirt "popped up" his locker several weeks ago and he doesn't know who put it there.
Upon speculation gift giver might have been Terry Fontenot.
"The GM? He need to put more than this in my locker." pic.twitter.com/6nIxJyj8yw
— Josh Kendall (@JoshTheAthletic) January 5, 2022
Perhaps Terry Fontenot is trying out some Jedi mind tricks, but Patterson’s right, he’s owed a lot more than just a sweatshirt.
Matt Ryan also commented on Patterson’s looming free agency, and per usual, he kept his answer 100% professional.
"As a teammate, we hope (Cordarrelle Patterson) is back… but we understand this is a business." Matt Ryan said CP has obviously meant a lot to this team in 2021 and he'd love to see him back in ATL in 2022.
— Tori McElhaney (@tori_mcelhaney) January 5, 2022
If I had to put odds on Patterson returning to Atlanta next season, I would put it right at 50/50. The Falcons don’t have a lot of cap space, but there are plenty of ways for them to make more. Plus, Patterson’s locker room presence alone has been vital in establishing the culture that Arthur Smith is attempting to implement, and I don’t imagine his next contract is going to be anything ridiculous. Remember, Patterson is still a 30-year-old offensive weapon with only one year of production. He should be more than affordable if the Falcons really want him back.