The first domino in the Falcons offseason, which is likely the future of Calvin Ridley, has yet to fall. Atlanta’s direction this spring will likely be predicated on Ridley’s decision to stay or request a trade.
Once the front office has an idea of what Ridley’s camp desires, they’ll be able to act in free agency. Without Ridley, the Falcons will undoubtedly be in the market for a wide receiver. But the needs don’t stop at wideout; Atlanta has a bevy of holes across the roster with little cap space to work.
There are several marquee impending free agents the Falcons will attempt to retain — Foye Oluokun, Cordarrelle Patterson, Younghoe Koo, Russell Gage, and more. The most notable name is Patterson, but not because he’s the most expensive or impactful free agent. Instead, his persistence on social media makes him the first name that comes to Falcons fans’ minds of who the front office should re-sign.
I am of the opinion the Falcons would be better served in finding a cheaper replacement in free agency — Jerick Mckinnon or JD McKissic — or through the draft. Paying running backs significant money is not in my religion, and it won’t be introduced any time soon.
Still, for the right price, I’d be open to Patterson returning to Atlanta. Arjun Menon of Pro Football Focus projected the landing spots of the site’s top 50 free agents, which had Patterson heading to the New York Jets on a two-year, $12 million deal.
34. HB/WR CORDARRELLE PATTERSON, ATLANTA FALCONS
Prediction: New York Jets — Two years, $12 million ($8.25 million guaranteed)
This past season was Patterson’s best statistical year of his career, but it seems unlikely that the Falcons bring him back due to cap constraints.
The Jets truly have no game-changers on offense, but Patterson can provide the juice that the offense needs. Arthur Smith runs a similar offense to Jets offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur, and Patterson could easily thrive in that outside zone scheme running behind Mekhi Becton and Alijah Vera-Tucker. He could be an effective receiving option for Zach Wilson.
Would the Falcons really let Patterson walk over a $6 million per year contract? I believe Terry Fontenot would give Patterson that deal, but I don’t think he prioritizes a running back over a MIKE linebacker (Foye). Sure, $6 million APY seems like a fair deal; however, the Falcons have more pressing needs that should be valued over bringing Patterson back. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Falcons do re-sign Patterson, but my gut tells me they let him walk.