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Does trade for WR Cordarrelle Patterson mean something else is coming for Patriots?

Ryan Hannable
March 18, 2018 - 11:23 pm

The Patriots added yet another first-round pick on Sunday when they reportedly acquired wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson in a trade with the Raiders where the teams will exchange fifth and sixth-round picks.

The first thought that came to mind was what a crowded receiving room the Patriots now have. With Patterson now on board, the Patriots have Julian Edelman, Brandin Cooks, Chris Hogan, Malcolm Mitchell, Phillip Dorsett, Kenny Britt, Patterson, Riley McCarron and Cody Hollister.

Also, Cooks, Dorsett and Patterson are very similar, as they are all burners who stretch the field. Does it really make sense to have three players who can just stretch the field?

Given rumors of the Patriots potentially trading Cooks with him being a free agent after 2018 and trying to get something for him now, this move just adds to it.

But, we don’t see it.

Patterson has a cap hit of $3.25 million for this season and he too is a free agent after the year. If the Patriots were going to add a receiver to take the place of Cooks, wouldn’t they want to make sure it’s for more than just one season? Since the Patriots traded a first-round pick for Cooks and he had a solid first season in New England developing great chemistry with Tom Brady, it makes sense just to ride this season out, even if it means if Cooks departs as a free agent.

Patterson isn’t a typical receiver, as he’s struggled with that part of his game after being selected No. 29 overall in 2013 by Minnesota before going to Oakland this past season, but he’s used his speed in other ways.

He’s one of the best kick returners in the game, as his career average of 30.2 yards per kick return ranks second in NFL history to Gale Sayers. Immediately he’s the best kick returner on the Patriots’ roster, although it’s worth noting he’s only returned one punt in his career. The 27-year-old has also lined up everywhere on offense — on the outside, in the slot and even in the backfield.

Patterson is a very good gadget player.

“He plays in the backfield, he plays in the receiver positions,” Bill Belichick said this season before facing the Raiders. “Call him whatever you want, he’s another explosive player.”

It doesn’t appear like he has any chance of playing receiver over Edelman, Cooks, Hogan and Mitchell (if healthy), so he’s likely competing with Dorsett and Britt for a roster spot. It’s worth noting he can be cut with no dead money, so it’s a no-risk signing.

With Matthew Slater visiting the Steelers this weekend and not signing a contract with the Patriots yet, perhaps Patterson is Slater’s roster replacement. Slater could play receiver in a pinch, but his main role was on special teams. The Patriots have already signed several core special teams players this offseason and Patterson in a way is a better version of Slater, besides all the intangibles Slater brings to the team with his leadership qualities.

Another possibility is the Patriots sign him to an extension to lower his $3.25 million cap, which is an extreme amount for a gadget player, and also have him locked up for more than just this season.

It’s unclear how the Patriots view Patterson for their team, but they certainly have options. He could be strictly a special teams player, a gadget receiver and special teams player, or even cut if things don’t work out.

Going into free agency and even after losing Danny Amendola, it didn’t feel like receiver was a need for the team, which makes it feel like something else is coming after the Patriots acquired Patterson on Sunday.

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