Cordarrelle Patterson

Steelers Rumors: Patterson, Heyward, Wilson, Peterson

Cordarrelle Patterson became one of the best return men in NFL history despite playing during an era when rule changes limited the number of kickoffs that were actually returned. Patterson, 33, recently signed a two-year contract with the Steelers, and as Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writes, the club initiated a dialogue with Patterson when talks to modify the kickoff rules were gaining steam among league owners. Once those modifications — which are designed to encourage more kick returns — were formally approved, Pittsburgh acted quickly to bring Patterson aboard.

Per Dulac, Patterson’s two-year deal is worth $6MM. While the versatile four-time First-Team All-Pro may see some action in the passing game and ground game, it is clear the Steelers are primarily counting on him to reprise his role as a dominant return specialist.

Now for more news and notes out of Pittsburgh:

  • Franchise icon Cameron Heyward seemed to be contemplating retirement following a 2023 season marred by a serious groin injury, and there was even a possibility that the Steelers could seek to release him given how much cap room the club could save by doing so. As Josh Alper of Pro Football Talk relayed back in February, Heyward underwent an unspecified surgery, and the player himself wrote on X that he is “done doing stuff on [one] leg that guys were doing on [two] legs.” Heyward added that he “can’t wait to get back to myself,” and Dale Lolley of the team’s official website wrote several weeks ago that HC Mike Tomlin believes the soon-to-be 35-year-old will be fully cleared by training camp. In sum, it appears that Heyward will be back for a 14th season, $22.41MM cap charge and all.
  • Another indication that Heyward would return to the Steelers for the 2024 campaign is the fact that he was one of the strongest advocates for the team’s Russell Wilson acquisition, per Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network (video link). Both players have Walter Payton Man of the Year Award honors to their name, and Tomlin also pushed for a Wilson signing after meeting with the veteran passer. According to Pelissero, Wilson’s agent made calls around the league to see if any team — like the Steelers — that might be interested in signing his client to a one-year contract would also be willing to tack on an “unprecedented, massive player option for 2025.” Unsurprisingly, there were no takers, so after another lengthy conversation with Tomlin, Wilson signed his contract with Pittsburgh.
  • Defensive back Patrick Peterson, whom the Steelers released last month, recently said that he has had preliminary talks with a handful of teams since his release, though he does not anticipate signing a new deal before the upcoming draft. The future Hall of Fame corner struggled during his one season in Pittsburgh, and the team gave him an extended look at safety as a result. Once clubs have a better idea of their roster weaknesses post-draft, interest in Peterson could pick up, and as Lolley writes, Tomlin is open to a Steelers-Peterson reunion (though a new contract will certainly be less valuable than the two-year, $14MM accord Peterson signed with the club in 2023).
  • Before signing Wilson and trading for Justin Fields, the Steelers considered, at least to some degree, Kirk Cousins, Ryan Tannehill, and Tyler Huntley.

Steelers To Sign Cordarrelle Patterson

Cordarrelle Patterson has been a dominant return specialist during the period in which that job decreased in importance. As the NFL prepares to revive this play, the Steelers are bringing in a perennial All-Pro.

Pittsburgh is signing Patterson to a two-year deal, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. This will reunite the versatile performer with Arthur Smith, who was at the controls when Patterson shifted to running back in Atlanta.

[RELATED: Owners Approve Kickoff Change]

The NFL moved its kickoff line from the 30-yard line back to the 35 — its location until 1994 — in 2011. This did not stop Patterson from impacting games in the years that followed. The 2013 first-round pick was never able to catch on as a wide receiver, but he has been this NFL period’s premier kick returner and one of the greatest in NFL history. Not dabbling much in the punt-return game, Patterson has racked up four first-team All-Pro honors as a kick returner. He has the most kick-return touchdowns (nine) in NFL history.

While Patterson’s return accomplishments are well known, he made a decent impact at a new position under Smith in Atlanta. The Falcons moved the former wide receiver to running back in 2021, making him their starter despite being at an age when running backs struggle to gain employment. Patterson became a running back at 30 and functioned as a regular for the Falcons at that post in 2021 and ’22.

The ex-Vikings top pick racked up 1,166 scrimmage yards in 2021, helping a team that had traded Julio Jones and saw Calvin Ridley leave early in the season due to mental health reasons. Despite Patterson being north of 30 at the time, the Falcons then gave him a two-year, $10.5MM deal. The 2022 arrival of Tyler Allgeier minimized Patterson’s backfield role, but he still gained a career-high 695 rushing yards despite missing four games that season. The Falcons ranked third in rushing that year. However, Bijan Robinson‘s 2023 arrival slowed the Patterson-at-RB experiment; he logged 50 carries last season.

Patterson, who turned 33 earlier this month, does not appear to have a clear path to a running back role in Pittsburgh. The team has Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren on rookie contracts. That said, Smith coached the veteran playmaker for three seasons; gadget plays could certainly be in the offing. Though, the Steelers will obviously be set to put Patterson to work on special teams.

Overall, the Tennessee alum has six All-Pro honors (two second-team nods) on his resume. Earning first-team acclaim in 2013, 2016, 2019 and 2020, Patterson has returned a kickoff for a score in seven separate seasons. Only one such jaunt came in Atlanta — as the others occurred while Patterson was with the Vikings, Patriots and Bears — but that 2022 TD broke Josh Cribbs and Leon Washington‘s NFL record. The extended production earned the 220-pound talent an All-Decade honor. He will soon get to work for a fifth NFL team.

Falcons To Use Bijan Robinson, Cordarrelle Patterson In Passing Game

The addition of Bijan Robinson to the Falcons’ backfield is expected to boost what was already a productive rushing attack in 2022. It is also likely to yield a change in Atlanta’s deployment of some of their running backs, however.

The Falcons are planning to use Robinson, this year’s No. 8 pick, in a role not exclusively involving snaps from the backfield, as head coach Arthur Smith indicated via ESPN’s Michael Rothstein. The highly-touted back spent time in various alignments during OTAs and minicamp, pointing to a heavy usage as a pass-catcher being in the cards during his rookie season.

Robinson emerged as one of the most celebrated RB prospects in recent memory during his college career at Texas. He posted 1,894 scrimmage yards and 20 total touchdowns during his final campaign, earning him the Doak Walker award as the country’s top running back along with a unanimous All-American nod. He was widely expected to be a Day 1 selection, but going inside the top 10 will no doubt elevate expectations for him right away on a Falcons offense which features a number of dual-threat skill players.

One of those is veteran Cordarrelle Patterson. The 32-year-old made an impact on the ground, in the air and on special teams with 1,609 all-purpose yards in 2021, his first season in Atlanta. His role shifted more towards that of a typical running back last season, though, as he shared rushing duties with Tyler Allgeier in the team’s ground-heavy offense. That setup worked in terms of run production, but a return to his previous alignment can be expected for Patterson.

The latter, along with Smith, is eyeing a larger involvement in the passing game with Robinson and Allgeier in place as rushing options, team reporter Tori McElhaney notes. Patterson has been effective in a Swiss Army knife role previously, earning considerable acclaim for his work as a returner. Being deployed more as a receiver would add to the Falcons’ pass-catching options, a group which includes recent first-rounders Kyle Pitts and Drake London but will be required to take a step forward in production in 2023.

How Atlanta uses their trio of Robinson, Patterson and Allgeier will be interesting to monitor through training camp and into the regular season as the team turns to Desmond Ridder at quarterback for a full campaign. Multiple looks for the former two should be a staple of the team’s offense as they look to maximize their shared potential.

Falcons Activate RB Cordarrelle Patterson From IR

NOVEMBER 5: Patterson will be back in uniform this week. The Falcons are activating him from IR, Mike Garafolo of tweets. This will only be Atlanta’s second injury activation used this season. Six such moves remain.

NOVEMBER 2: During Cordarrelle Patterson‘s injury hiatus, the Falcons have climbed into first place in the NFC South. The increasingly run-oriented team may have its top running back in uniform soon.

The Falcons designated Patterson to return from IR on Wednesday. Patterson has been out with a knee injury, missing Atlanta’s past four games. Being designated for return would allow the decorated kick returner to play this weekend, but the Falcons have three weeks to activate the late-blooming back. Patterson underwent a minor knee procedure on Oct. 3; the Falcons will see how he looks in practice.

The NFL’s oldest active starting running back, at 31, Patterson displayed continued explosiveness before going down with the knee ailment. He broke through for 120 rushing yards in Week 1 and set a new career-high mark with 141 against the Seahawks in Week 3. Patterson contributed to the Falcons’ Week 4 win over the Browns but went on IR shortly after.

An All-Decade return man, Patterson re-signed with the Falcons this offseason on a two-year, $10.5MM deal. The Falcons have benefited from taking a flier on Patterson in 2021 and trying him at running back. The former receiver washout-turned-dominant kick returner finished with a career-high (by far) 1,166 scrimmage yards last season.

This season, the Falcons have found some serviceable replacements for Patterson — players that figure to be contributors even when the starter returns. Tyler Allgeier and Caleb Huntley have combined for 589 rushing yards this season. The Falcons chose Allgeier in the fifth round and promoted Huntley, a former UDFA, off their practice squad during the season. Atlanta ranks sixth in total offense, reaching this perch despite a low-volume passing attack. Patterson stands to help in that area as well, as the team attempts a legitimate playoff pursuit.

Falcons Place Cordarrelle Patterson On IR

The Falcons will be without their top offensive contributor for several weeks. Running back Cordarrelle Patterson has been placed on IR after undergoing a minor knee procedure this morning, per a team announcement. As a result, he will miss at least the next four games. 

The 31-year-old had been dealing with the injury in the build-up to yesterday’s game against the Browns. It limited his practice time, and led to him only playing 16 offensive snaps. That fell well short of his usage during the other three games this season, a stretch in which he put up 302 rushing yards. Especially in the absence of Damien Williams, Patterson has played a central role in Atlanta ranking fourth in the league with 168 yards per game on the ground.

That, in turn, represented a continuation of the Tennessee alum’s production from last year. His role both on offense and special teams earned him a two-year deal in March. Patterson has not seen much action in the passing game this season, but he will nevertheless be sorely missed in a Falcons offense which is lacking in established skill position players.

With both Patterson and Williams on the shelf, Atlanta will turn to far less experienced options. Caleb Huntley, who was elevated from the practice squad for yesterday’s contest, ran for 56 yards and a touchdown on Sunday. The team announced on Monday that he has been signed to the active roster with the spot opened up by Patterson’s IR designation.

Another rookie who is in line for more work is Tyler Allgeier. The fifth-rounder posted 84 rushing yards against the Browns, and has seen his snap share increase in each of the three games he has played in. Those two will likely see the majority of carries moving forward, as the team awaits the return of one of the league’s most unique offensive threats.

Falcons Notes: QB Camp Reps, RB, NT Competitions

For the first time since 2008, the Falcons will have a starting quarterback not named Matt Ryan when the upcoming season begins. The team added Marcus Mariota as a short-term solution at the position, then drafted Desmond Ridder as a long-term option to succeed him.

The former has starting experience dating back to his time with the Titans, and will look to establish himself as a No. 1 again after two years as a backup with the Raiders. The latter, meanwhile, had an historic career at Cincinnati, leading the Bearcats to the CFP playoffs in 2021. Their lack of a track record at the NFL level made the Falcons a candidate to add a camp arm, but the team is investing fully in their top two passers.

As detailed by D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, training camp reps will be split between Mariota and Ridder, with Feleipe Franks primarily focusing on his transition to TE. “When you look at it in terms of the quarterbacks for live periods of practice, there is not a lot [of] taxing amount of periods where the ball is being thrown,” said offensive coordinator Dave Ragone when speaking about a concentrated workload for the pair. With little expected of the team in 2022, dividing the reps only two ways is a sensible step for the Falcons as they search for a new franchise signal-caller.

Here are a few other notes from the Peach State, both from Ledbetter’s positional breakdowns:

  • The Falcons ranked 31st in the league in rushing last season, so their attempts at improving their ground game will be the subject of much attention this year. Cordarrelle Patterson is set to return, after he totalled a career-best 1,166 scrimmage yards in 2021. He will not enter camp as the undisputed No. 1 back, however; RBs coach Mike Pitre said that there will be a “wide open” competition involving the veteran Swiss Army knife, free agent signing Damien Williamsand younger options like rookie Tyler Allgeier and Avery Williamswho is converting from cornerback. Head coach Arthur Smith did add, however, that the Falcons will “continue to try to enhance ” Patterson’s overall role in the offense.
  • On the defensive side of the ball, nose tackle will be another positional battle to watch. Either Vincent Taylor 0r Anthony Rush will earn a starting spot alongside Grady Jarrett in the heart of the d-line. Eddie Goldman was the most experienced option for a first-team role until his unexpected retirement decision was confirmed earlier this week. Taylor and Rush have each bounced around to multiple teams in their careers, but will have an opportunity for significant snaps in their debut seasons with the Falcons, who ranked 27th against the run in 2021.

NFC Rumors: Gronkowski, Bears, Dean, Graham, Lions, Patterson

In an interview with Sports Illustrated last weekend, free agent tight end Rob Gronkowski was asked about the potential for his return. In reality, the question and answer were played off a bit as a joke.

The reporter specifically asked Gronkowski if he would return should Tampa Bay sign retired wide receiver Julian Edelman. Gronkowski didn’t hesitate to commit to returning for a full season alongside Edelman were that to occur. Realistically, if Gronkowski is to return for another season with the Buccaneers, CBS Sports’ Jonathan Jones expects that decision to be made after minicamps.

Here are a few more rumors from around the NFC, starting with a rumor out of the Windy City:

  • In the 2022 NFL Draft, the Bears heavily addressed their offensive line, drafting four offensive linemen and signing one more undrafted free agent lineman. Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune expects the team to continue trying to add to the group, saying that they should be on the lookout specifically for “an experienced option to compete for the right guard job.” Biggs also expects Chicago to target veterans at defensive line and wide receiver over the next few weeks.
  • New Eagles linebacker Nakobe Dean was expected to be a first round pick during last month’s Draft. Dean was the victim of one of the least predictable slides of all time, falling down to the third round of the Draft due to concerns over his health. Well, according to EJ Smith of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Dean has been a full participant in the team’s rookie minicamp, making an effort to disprove the notion many teams held that he would potentially miss his entire rookie season with a pectoral injury.
  • Two games into the 2021 NFL season, Eagles defensive end Brandon Graham suffered a season-ending tear of his Achilles tendon. Well, according to Eliot Shorr-Parks of, Graham says he feels like the injury never even happened. He will return to the field with no restrictions this preseason. This wouldn’t be the first time Graham has made a full recovery from a long-term injury. He tore his ACL 13 games into his rookie season. Despite the serious injury, Graham has become the impact player he is today, the same player he is expecting to be this upcoming season.
  • Two Thursdays ago, the Lions were more than happy to walk away from the 2022 Draft with the hometown defensive end from Michigan, Aidan Hutchinson. If things had not worked out so perfectly for Detroit, though, and Hutchinson had been told to pack his bags for Duval, Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated reports that the Lions would have selected the player Jacksonville actually did select, Georgia defensive lineman Travon Walker.
  • Falcons wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson has always been a bit of a swiss army knife. He has made impressive plays in the kick and punt return games and, while performing mainly as a wide receiver for most of his career, Patterson has displayed the ability to run the ball when required, as well. After signing to join the Falcons last year, Patterson was asked to run the ball more than ever before, serving as Atlanta’s top rusher in terms of both attempts and yards. Well, Michael Fabiano of Sports Illustrated quoted ESPN’s Michael Rothstein stating his belief that Patterson will return to his primary position, expecting the 31-year old to spend more time at wide receiver than running back next year. Whether this would be a result of offseason additions like free agent signing Damien Williams or newly drafted Keaontay Ingram or if Patterson just requested a return to his natural role, Patterson is expected to take fewer snaps at running back next season.

Falcons Re-Sign Cordarrelle Patterson

Cordarrelle Patterson will be back in Atlanta next season. The versatile running back/wideout is re-signing with the Falcons, reports NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo (via Twitter). It’s a two-year, $10.5MM deal, according to ESPN’s Michael Rothstein (via Twitter).

Patterson made a name for himself on special teams early in his career, but he took on a significant offensive role in 2021. Signed to a one-year deal worth $3MM, Patterson supplanted Mike Davis as Atlanta’s top running back early in the season. In 16 games (13 starts), Patterson finished with 1,166 yards from scrimmage and 11 touchdowns on 205 touches. Thanks in part to his on-field production, Patterson became a fan favorite, and the Falcons made it clear after the season that they wanted to retain the veteran.

“From our standpoint, we’d love to have [CP] back,” owner Arthur Blank said in February. “We saw the same thing that you saw on the field. I think this is a very talented player, a very talented athlete. This is a good example of when a coach understands the scheme – which he does, Coach Smith – and he takes an athlete like this and can use him in a variety of ways I think you see the kind of production that he can have. He’s a terrific young man. He’s great with the fans. He’s great in the locker room. He’s a real competitor… I hope that he’ll be a Falcon this time [next] year.”

The 2013 first-round pick spent the first four seasons of his career with the Titans, earning a pair of All-Pro nods for his kick-return prowess (in four seasons with the organization, Patterson returned five kickoffs for scores). Patterson later had stints with the Raiders, Patriots, and Bears.

With Patterson back, the Falcons will move forward with a running backs room that also includes Davis and recent free-agent signing Damien Williams. Atlanta is also rostering Qadree Ollison, and Caleb Huntley.

Falcons Have Discussed New Deal With RB Cordarrelle Patterson

Cordarrelle Patterson had a breakout offensive year during his age-30 season. While the veteran is set to his free agency this offseason, the Falcons are already looking to retain the Swiss Army Knife-like weapon. Owner Arthur Blank told reporters that the Falcons have already had discussions with Patterson’s agents.

“From our standpoint, we’d love to have [CP] back,” Blank said (via the team’s website). “We saw the same thing that you saw on the field. I think this is a very talented player, a very talented athlete. This is a good example of when a coach understands the scheme – which he does, Coach Smith – and he takes an athlete like this and can use him in a variety of ways I think you see the kind of production that he can have. He’s a terrific young man. He’s great with the fans. He’s great in the locker room. He’s a real competitor… I hope that he’ll be a Falcon this time [next] year.”

Patterson made a name for himself on special teams, but he took on a large offensive role in 2021. In 16 games (13 starts), Patterson finished with 1,166 yards from scrimmage and 11 touchdowns on 205 touches. Thanks in part to his on-field production, Patterson became a fan favorite, and he reciprocated the love by wearing a sweatshirt stating “The City of Atlanta Changed My Life.”

The Falcons signed Mike Davis to a two-year deal last offseason, but they could choose to move on from the veteran if Patterson ends up commanding a (relatively) hefty contract. Fellow running back Qadree Ollison is also set to hit free agency.

Cordarrelle Patterson Wants To Stay With Falcons

The Falcons traded Julio Jones and saw Calvin Ridley step away from football early this season, leaving a void at the skill positions in Arthur Smith‘s first year. While Kyle Pitts has delivered a 1,000-yard rookie season, the Falcons have relied on Cordarrelle Patterson extensively.

Signed to a one-year deal worth $3MM, Patterson supplanted Mike Davis as Atlanta’s top running back early this season. Entering Week 18, the perennial All-Pro kick returner has amassed a career-high (by far) 1,154 scrimmage yards and scored 11 touchdowns — seven more than any other Falcon this season.

Patterson is two-plus months from free agency and would stand to hit the market in an interesting position, as a soon-to-be 31-year-old running back without much ball-carrying mileage on his resume. The former first-round pick is interested in sticking with the Falcons.

I love it here. Honestly, I want to be here the rest of my career, but that’s not on me,” Patterson said, via Josh Kendall of The Athletic (subscription required). “… I’ve been around — five teams, eight offensive coordinators. Being here, I feel like I’m at home. Why not just finish my career here? I’m comfortable with all the guys in the locker room, the coaches; why not finish my career here?

The Vikings attempted to use Patterson as a wide receiver early in his career but gave up on that effort fairly soon. Patterson then became one of this era’s best kick returners, landing on four All-Pro teams. While the Patriots and Bears used the 220-pound returner as a running back sparsely, the Falcons have been the first team to fully commit to such a position move. They did not add a backup for Davis this offseason, and Patterson quickly became the team’s top option. The 149 carries he has logged are 85 more than any other season of his career.

Running backs face difficulties on the market annually, though the upcoming cap spike stands to help free agents at every position. Patterson hitting free agency would put him alongside the likes of Leonard Fournette, James Conner, Melvin Gordon, Sony Michel and Rashaad Penny. Patterson’s profile differs considerably from this group, making him one of the more interesting skill-position free agents in memory.