The Falcons already had a loaded running back room before the NFL Draft. Tyler Allgeier made some noise in the Rookie of the Year race on his way to breaking the franchise record for rushing yards by a rookie, and Cordarrelle Patterson put up career-highs rushing yards and touchdowns. Then, they drafted Bijan Robinson with the 8th overall pick.
It was a head-scratching decision, but context is important. Robinson is better described as an offensive weapon that will be utilized as a receiver as much as a traditional running back. The same can be said for Patterson as well. In 2021, he was used as a pass catcher a lot more than last season. Expect him to revert back to that 2021 role. Moreover, for an offense that runs the ball as much as Arthur Smith’s, there is plenty of opportunities to go around.
Still, that hasn’t stopped the talking heads from spouting nonsense. Kevin Knox of Bleacher Report continues to push a narrative the Falcons don’t want or need Patterson, including him in his list of veterans on the roster bubble in training camp.
For Atlanta Falcons running back/receiver/returner Cordarrelle Patterson, it’ll be all about cap dollars and roster depth in 2023.
Patterson has primarily been used as a running back over the last two seasons, but the Falcons are now loaded at the position. They have Tyler Allgeier, who was a 1,000-yard rusher as a rookie in 2022, Caleb Huntley, Patterson and rookie first-round pick Bijan Robinson.
Robinson is capable of playing the same runner/receiver role that Patterson currently occupies. Atlanta isn’t exactly short on pass-catching talent either, with Drake London, Kyle Pitts, Mack Hollins, Scotty Miller and Jonnu Smith on the roster. Simply put, touches could be hard for Patterson to come by on offense.
As such, the 32-year-old will have to show that he’s still an electric threat on special teams, and he did have a kick-return touchdown in 2022. The problem is that the league’s new fair-catch rule—any fair catch on a kickoff will result in the ball being placed at the 25-yard-line—could make it hard for him to provide adequate special teams value.
Because of the new rule, Patterson may have fewer chances to make things happen as a returner. If he doesn’t shine in that role during training camp, the Falcons could release him and save $4.3 million in 2023 cap space.
The Falcons will be entering the 2023 season with Cordarrelle Patterson on the roster; I can guarantee that. Not only does the club value what he brings on the field, but his veteran presence is invaluable. I understand it seems there will be too many mouths to feed, but the Falcons will use a positionless approach, with multiple running backs featuring two of Patterson, Allgeier, and Robinson on the field at the same time.
Photographer: David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire