Green Bay Packers

Cordarrelle Patterson Is the Versatile Offensive Weapon Green Bay Needs

Photo Credit: Kirby Lee (USA TODAY Sports)

The Green Bay Packers aren’t in a comfortable salary cap situation, but that can’t prevent them from getting better for the 2022 season, especially if the team wants to keep quarterback Aaron Rodgers and compete for another championship. That’s why it is so important for general manager Brian Gutekunst to find cheap and versatile talent in free agency.

One name, in particular, could be impactful for them in more than one way: Cordarrelle Patterson.

The 30-year-old wide receiver/running back/returner just had his best season as a pro and is back on the market after a one-year prove-it deal with the Atlanta Falcons. He’s a well-known name for Packers fans because he played in the NFC North for six seasons. Patterson was drafted by the Minnesota Vikings and played with them from 2013 to 2016, and was with the Chicago Bears in 2019 and 2020.

The Vikings drafted Patterson as a receiver in 2013, but he was kind of underwhelming considering that they traded four picks to the New England Patriots to take him 29th overall. He’s not a good route runner and excels in a very specific role. But he could absolutely help the Packers, both on offense and special teams.


Until last year, Patterson had had his best season on offense as a rookie in 2013. He had stints with Minnesota, the Oakland Raiders, New England Patriots, and Chicago without having a consistent role either as wide receiver or running back. Patterson was not used as a running back early in his career, but Bill Belichick tried him there when he was with the Patriots.

He finally had a defined role with the Falcons, though. In Atlanta, he played under head coach Arthur Smith, who runs a Matt LaFleur-style offense. Smith was LaFleur’s tight ends coach when LaFleur was the Tennessee Titans offensive coordinator.

Smith and LaFleur share some philosophical aspects to their systems, and there’s a blueprint for how the Packers would use Patterson. He’s a good change-of-pace running back and explosive wide receiver with simple route concepts.

“He’s a warrior,” Arthur Smith said during the 2021 season. “[Patterson is] a big, physical presence that can do a lot for us.”

Although he has a different build, the Packers kind of had a similar gadget piece, Tyler Ervin, in 2019 and 2020. Ervin had good stretches of play when healthy, helping the team to expand the offense horizontally with motions and sweeps.

Patterson’s performance last year was so good that Falcons owner Arthur Blank said the team wants him back.

“From our standpoint, we’d love to have him back,” Blank said. “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 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.”

Special teams

It’s clear the Packers have decided to invest more in special teams this season after a catastrophic performance last year. The first step was to hire coordinator Rich Bisaccia, but it’s also essential to give him good players. And Patterson is a great special teamer.

He has been an All-Pro seven times as a kick returner. He was first team in 2013, 2016, 2019, and 2020; and second team in 2015, 2018, and 2019. Patterson is also part of the NFL 2010s All-Decade Team alongside current Packers Aaron Rodgers and old friends Jahri Evans and Julius Peppers.

Patterson is tied with Leon Washington and Josh Cribbs for the kickoff-return touchdown record, with eight. Although he has almost no experience returning punts, the Packers will have running back Kylin Hill back for 2022 to execute this role.

Patterson has three seasons with over 1,000 returning yards (2013, 2015, 2020). Last season, with an expanded role on offense, he had only 18 kick returns, ending the year with 434 yards (24.1 per return). For context, Amari Rodgers had 199 yards in 11 kick returns (18.1 per attempt) last year.


Last offseason, Patterson signed a one-year, $3 million deal with the Falcons. After his best season in the NFL, he is going to get more than that this year. PFF projects his market value at two years, $12 million ($6 million per year, $8.25 million guaranteed.)

Spotrac gives Patterson more value as an offensive weapon and compares him to running backs like David Johnson and Carlos Hyde and receivers as Randall Cobb and Jakeem Grant. Because of this, it projects Patterson’s contract as a two-year, $18.2 million deal.

Adding void years, his 2022 cap hit could be as low as $2.7 million. Its a perfect scenario if the Packers want to upgrade the edges of the roster without spending much money.

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