Former Vikings All-Pro Heads to Pittsburgh

Aug 19, 2023; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; A Pittsburgh Steelers helmet sits on the sidelines against the Buffalo Bills at Acrisure Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

You’ll be hard-pressed to find a football player with as unique a skillset as Cordarrelle Patterson.

The former Vikings All-Pro has invented and re-invented himself a couple times throughout his NFL career, and now, the running back/wide receiver hybrid is set to take his talents to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Former Vikings Pro Bowler Heads to Pittsburgh

Vikings All-Pro
Jan 1, 2017; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson (84) returns a kickoff to start the game against the Chicago Bears at U.S. Bank Stadium. The Vikings win 38-10. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

The news was reported by Adam Schefter of ESPN, who tweeted, “Former Falcons RB Cordarrelle Patterson reached agreement on a two-year deal with the Pittsburgh Steelers, per sources. Patterson reunites with his former HC Arthur Smith.”

Patterson was selected by the Vikings with the 29th overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, and initially, he began his career as a depth receiver for Minnesota while also holding down the kick return duties. In just his second NFL game, he took a kick return 105 yards all the way to the house for a touchdown against the Chicago Bears.

When the dust settled on his rookie season, Patterson had recorded 45 receptions for 469 yards and four touchdowns while being named a first-team All-Pro for his kick returning skills. He returned 43 kicks for 1393 yards (averaging a league-leading 32.4 yards per return) while leading the league with two kick return touchdowns.

Dec 18, 2016; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson (84) returns a kickoff against the Indianapolis Colts in the second quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. The Colts win 34-6. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

Patterson went on to spend four seasons in a Vikings uniform. In total, he put together 132 receptions for 1316 yards and seven touchdowns while returning 134 kicks for 4075 yards and five touchdowns. After his rookie contract expired, he spent a season with the Oakland Raiders before hopping aboard the New England Patriots in 2018 and winning a Super Bowl.

During that 2018 season, Patterson recorded more carries out of the backfield than receptions for the first time in his career — a trend that would only continue moving forward in his career. He then headed to the Chicago Bears, and he was named a first-team All-Pro player in each of his two seasons there because of his kick returning prowess.

In 2021, Patterson signed with the Atlanta Falcons where he fully transformed into a starting running back. Over his three seasons in Atlanta, he put together 347 carries for 1494 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns. During that 2021 season, he surpassed 1000 yards from scrimmage for the first time in his career at age 30.

Jan 2, 2022; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Atlanta Falcons running back Cordarrelle Patterson (84) runs with the ball as Buffalo Bills outside linebacker Matt Milano (58) defends during the first half at Highmark Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

The WR/KR turned RB now heads to Pittsburgh, joining an offense that is trying to re-invent itself around Russell Wilson. A do-it-all gadget weapon like Patterson certainly could help as they try to do that.

On top of his diverse skillset on the offense, Patterson is the NFL’s all-time leader in kick return touchdowns with nine. Seeing as the league is set to revamp their kick return rules in 2024 to try and encourage more returns, the historic kick returning talent should have his fingerprints all over this Steelers team.

Editor’s Note: Statistics for this article were found via Pro Football Reference.

Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho and managing editor of When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys running, gaming, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. Check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.