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NFL Free Agency: Could Giants use WR/KR Cordarrelle Patterson?

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He is a play-maker, even though he might not be a true wide receiver

San Diego Chargers v Minnesota Vikings
Cordarrelle Patterson
Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images

Cordarrelle Patterson has made it plain that before he re-signs with the Minnesota Vikings or joins another team this spring in free agency he wants to make sure whoever he plays for plans to fully utilize his skills.

Patterson told NFL.com that before he returns to Minnesota "I need to know if I'm going to play or not. If not, I'll take my talents elsewhere."

Should the New York Giants be interested in acquiring those talents if Patterson hits the free-agent market in March?

Patterson made most of his impact with the Vikings as a kickoff returner, with 2016 being the second time in four seasons he was named to the Pro Bowl in that capacity. He has averaged 30.4 yards with five touchdowns on kickoff returns in his career.

Patterson, either under-whelming or under-utilized as a wide receiver during his first three years in Minnesota, had his best year as an offensive player in 2016. He caught a career-high 52 passes, albeit averaging only 8.7 yards per catch and 28.3 receiving yards per game.

The offensively-challenged Giants could use more players who can make plays with the ball in their hands, regardless of position. Does Patterson fit with Big Blue?

Perhaps only if the Giants were willing to part with Pro Bowl special teamer Dwayne Harris, swallowing a $2.4 million cap hit in the process. Patterson would likely be an upgrade over Harris as a kickoff returner, but he doesn’t return punts and Harris is considered one of the best punt gunners in the NFL. That’s another thing Patterson doesn’t do.

Since the 2016 season ended we have discussed a number of times the Giants’ need for a true outside receiver to complement Odell Beckham Jr. and Sterling Shepard. Can Patterson be that guy? He has the size at 6-foot-2, 216 pounds, but Patterson has never been considered a polished receiver.

In 2016, Patterson averaged only 2.52 receiving yards at the catch, the lowest total of any wide receiver in the league. That means he isn’t really running routes. The Vikings are throwing him bubble screens and other quick, short passes and hoping he can create after the catch. Patterson’s 8.7 yards per catch was also the worst of any receiver in the league, with only tight ends and running backs averaging less.

So, yes, you can throw Patterson the ball. Despite his size and speed, though, he doesn’t appear to be the kind of receiver who can challenge secondaries, make catches in traffic and draw enough respect from opposing secondaries to open space for Beckham and others.

Is Patterson a player you would like to see the Giants pursue should he be available?