ESPN has some sky high praise for Cordarrelle Patterson

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Cordarrelle Patterson established himself as the kick return king during a Week 11 contest in which the Falcons were hosting the Bears.

It was his ninth kick return for a touchdown, breaking a tie with Josh Cribbs and Leon Washington. It was an electric 103-yard return in which Patterson split Chicago’s kick coverage, racing through the middle of the field for a score that more than made up for a fumble earlier in the game.

It was his seventh touchdown of 100-plus yards — no one else in league history has scored more than three. He’ll forever be considered among the greatest return men in the NFL, but that’s not enough for Bill Barnwell of ESPN, who has now dubbed Patterson the GOAT kick returner.

I’d give the nod to Patterson, though, who has thrived in an era in which nobody else has even come close. He has scored all nine of his kickoff return touchdowns since the league shortened kickoffs in 2012. Jacoby Jones racked up four over that span, and no other player has more than three. Patterson also has averaged 29.5 yards per return in his career, more than any other player with at least 20 kick returns. He has been phenomenal and done so while scoring kickoff return touchdowns for four different organizations, including one for the Falcons in 2022.

Patterson is the best kick returner in history. Is he the best returner in league history, full stop? No. Devin Hester has five kickoff returns for scores to go with his NFL-record 14 punt return touchdownsEric Metcalf is the only other returner to hit double-digit punt return scores. Hester and Dante Hall are the only return men with at least five punt and five kick return touchdowns. Patterson is not going to catch up to Hester, but one more kick return touchdown would put some breathing room between him and the rest of his competition.

With Avery Williams out for the year with an ACL injury, Cordarrelle Patterson’s opportunities to cement his status as the greatest kick returner of all-time will be available

The Falcons have been extremely conscious of Patterson’s touches. The club regularly gives him veteran rest throughout the season, and it’s abundantly clear why. Each season he’s been in Atlanta, Patterson has struggled to stay healthy. The Falcons probably aren’t fond of giving Patterson every single kickoff return, but they might not have a choice.

Regardless of the club’s approach, Cordarrelle Patterson is undoubtedly the GOAT kick returner and will have multiple chances in 2023 to increase the distance between himself and the field.

Photographer: David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire

 

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