Another day, another Vikings unrestricted free agent leaves the team… Perhaps Riki Ellison was on to something?!?
I’m saying that facetiously, as nothing is that simple and while losing Patterson (And even Captain Munnerlyn) sucks, it’s not like you can say the rest of it is some massive jettison of talent, at least as some indication of a larger problem. However, the Vikings now do find themselves in the market for not only another wide receiver, but perhaps a kick returner as well (Depending on whether or not they believe that their top class punt returner, Marcus Sherels, can return kicks, or even one of their few remaining wide receivers in Adam Thielen could step in), so while you have to take Ellison’s comments with a grain or two of salt (Before taking a tequila shot, at this point, hopefully) the Vikings definitely are adding a decent amount to their to-do list this free agency period.
While Cordarrelle Patterson seemingly wanted to return to Minnesota, at least if you followed his Snapchats over the weekend, there was some sign that he was ready to leave the team as far back as January of this year. According to an article by Timothy Rapp on Bleacher Report, that quotes Conor Orr of NFL.com, Patterson showcased his frustration with his lack of playing time and discussed leaving if things didn’t change:
“Two years I spent damn near on the sideline, That’s never a good feeling for any player. No player wants to go through that. I need to know if I’m going to play or not. If not, I’ll take my talents elsewhere.”
Now, it’s hard to really feel bad for Patterson, or even miss him (Even though I did and do) when you read quotes like that as it shows a complete lack of personal responsibility and honestly, a lack of gratefulness for the multiple opportunities the Vikings did give him, considering. There was a specific reason that he was “On the sideline” for “Two years” and that was because he wasn’t an NFL level wide receiver during those years. The Vikings gave him a shot to be their number one guy back in 2014, it didn’t work because Patterson wasn’t ready yet. But they did give him another shot last season and he did work hard for it, but it’s just surprising to me that he had the gall to say he was going to “Take [his] talents elsewhere”, without using any irony, especially.
According to Bleacher Report, also, Patterson signed a two year deal with the Raiders and will instantly improve their special teams if nothing else. Patterson is the premier kick returner in the NFL and also contributed to the offense last season as a number three guy, which is about where he will land in Oakland, as he will be playing alongside Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper.
This move leaves the Vikings with some holes to fill in the wide receiver corps, especially as they lost Charles Johnson to free agency as well. Johnson wasn’t a huge contributor to the offense (The pre-season notwithstanding), but he did provide depth. So, as of the writing of this piece, the Vikings have Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen, Jarius Wright, Laquon Treadwell, Isaac Fruechte and Moritz Boehringer on their roster. Diggs has missed games to injury last season as a wide receiver, so if that happens again this year the Vikings would be stretched pretty thin as Wright is more of a slot guy than an outside guy. That’s why signing someone Alshon Jeffery, who the Vikings made an offer to, or Terrelle Pryor (Who they were reportedly interested in) would’ve been really helpful as the Vikings really don’t have the draft picks to add another receiver on April 27th.
Luckily, there’s still some receivers available who may be able to elevate the position while saving the Vikings some money and the need to spend a draft pick come April. One of the more intriguing options is Danny Amendola, who is still under contract with the New England Patriots but some say that they might release him as they acquired New Orleans speedster Bradin Cooks recently. Amendola, a jack of all trades (Like Patterson) returned kicks as well in 2010, so while he’s on the “wrong side” of 30 that’s still something he could definitely contribute to the team. In 2010, while playing with current Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford, Amendola lead the NFL in all purpose yards, so that’s definitely someone that the Vikings should look at (Again if or when the Patriots release him).
Then there’s Michael Floyd, St. Paul Minnesota native and former Arizona Cardinal. He currently is also on the Patriots roster, as he was claimed off of waivers in mid-to-late December of last year after an arrest for a second DUI. The Patriots picked him up and he played in a couple games, however he was inactive for the AFC and NFL Championships, so again with the addition of Brandin Cooks, Floyd could become available. Now, Floyd does have a persona non grata reputation at this point, as the top articles that currently come up for him on Google News are on TMZ.com. So, it’d depend on how comfortable the Vikings are with his legal/drinking situation, but at this point we may be in a beggars can’t be choosers mode of thinking.
Either way, losing Patterson will end up being a net negative for the team as he brought tremendous value to special teams, both as a returner and a gunner on punts. While teams did kick away from him often, he still owns both Vikings and even NFL records. He had the longest kick return for a touchdown in history, of 109 yards, something that can only be tied and never broken, like plastic shoelaces. He is also tied with Percy Harvin and Marcus Sherels for the most kicks returned for a touchdown in Vikings history (Five). He was averaging over 31 yards per return in 2016 and made his second Pro Bowl as a kick returner as well.
So, he will be missed in that regard and also because he seemed to be a pretty happy go lucky guy. Regardless of the situation, he always had a smile on his face. That’s something that I envy and so again, I will miss the guy. So, stay tuned to see what moves the Vikings make this week to shore up their receiver corps! My favorite position to analyze and get hyped over, so, it could be an interesting next few days!