Patriots Can Be Creative With Latest Acquisition Cordarrelle Patterson

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Patriots wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson

Photo via Timothy T. Ludwig/USA TODAY Sports Images

The last time the New England Patriots traded with the Oakland Raiders for a former Minnesota Vikings wide receiver who wore No. 84, it turned out pretty well.

OK, so it’s unfair to compare Cordarrelle Patterson, who the Patriots acquired Sunday night, to Randy Moss, but it’s a fun parallel.

The Patriots are connected to Patterson in another way, too. The Patriots traded the No. 29 overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft used to select Patterson to the Vikings. The Patriots received four picks in return. They drafted linebacker Jamie Collins, cornerback Logan Ryan, wide receiver Josh Boyce and traded the seventh-rounder for running back LeGarrette Blount. Pretty good haul that helped the Patriots win two Super Bowls.

Now let’s see what the Patriots can do with Patterson.

Patterson’s most likely role with the Patriots is on special teams. The Tennessee product is a two-time Pro Bowl selection and three-time All-Pro as a return man. He has 153 career kick returns for 4,613 yards with five touchdowns. Dion Lewis, who has since signed with the Tennessee Titans as a free agent, was the Patriots’ kick returner in 2017.

Patterson has only returned one career punt, so it seems unlikely he’ll handle those duties in New England. That role is more likely to be taken over from Danny Amendola by cornerback Cyrus Jones or wide receiver Julian Edelman.

Patterson didn’t play a ton of special teams outside of return duties early in his career, but he has seven tackles over the last two seasons. The Patriots could use Patterson and his 4.42-second 40-yard dash speed on punt and kick teams.

The Patriots also can use Patterson and his deep speed in a number of roles on offense. He’s listed as a wide receiver, but he’ll have to compete for snaps with Edelman, Brandin Cooks, Chris Hogan, Malcolm Mitchell, Phillip Dorsett and Kenny Britt, as well as 2017 practice squadders Riley McCarron and Cody Hollister, at that position. Expecting Patterson to be a full-time receiver is unwise.

The Patriots can use Patterson creatively, however. He has 44 career carries for 454 yards with six touchdowns. He had 13 carries for 121 yards with two touchdowns last season, including two 47-yard plays.

When Patterson takes the field on offense for the Patriots, defenses will have to be on their toes. Will he go deep? Will he catch a screen pass? Will he take a jet sweep? He’ll add some unpredictability.

The Patriots gave up very little for Patterson, so even if he doesn’t make the Patriots’ 53-man roster, there will be little regret in making the trade.

The Patriots reportedly gave up a fifth-round pick for Patterson and a sixth-round selection. He’ll make $3.25 million in 2018, but none of it is guaranteed. There’s really very little to complain about the Patriots pulling off this deal. Patriots fans undoubtedly will find a way, however.

This is the third trade the Patriots have pulled off since the offseason began. They also acquired defensive tackle Danny Shelton and cornerback Jason McCourty from the Cleveland Browns.

The Patriots weren’t involved in the initial wave of free agency — even to re-sign their own high-profile players — but they continue to build up their roster through other means.

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