What will Cordarrelle Patterson’s role on the Falcons be in 2021?

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Deen Worley
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On Wednesday afternoon, special teams ace Cordarrelle Patterson visited with the Atlanta Falcons and by Thursday, the two sides struck a deal. In a surprise move just hours later, the team released running back Ito Smith. So while we know Patterson’s primary role for the Falcons is in the return game, how much can we expect to see him on offense?

Atlanta is currently listing him as a backup running back but Patterson offers the flexibility to line up all over the field.

“I’m not one of those guys you just label as a wide receiver, kick returner, running back,” said Patterson in an interview with Nathan Smith of the Chicago Bears team site in 2020. “I just go out and do whatever coach tells me to do. Whatever he needs done, I’m going to go out and do it to the best of my ability.”

Bears Total Offensive Snaps (1,072)

Pos. Snap %


Total Snaps

Total Snap %



C. Patterson





Patterson’s 57 total snaps taken as a wide receiver is the lowest total of his career and a dramatic turnaround from the 169 snaps taken at the position in 2019. As a pass catcher, Patterson was targeted 25 times, however, 22 of those came behind the line of scrimmage or within 10 yards of it. He recorded zero catches beyond 10 yards.

Patterson’s 64 carries in 2020 were the highest of his eight-year NFL career. The only other time during his career when he saw more carries than targets was in 2018 with the Patriots. His 146 snaps where he lined up as a running back is also a drastic turnaround from the 18 snaps in 2019 and 47 snaps in 2018.

While it’s good that Patterson brings other things to the table, his time with the Falcons won’t be judged by the production he brings on offense. His money will be made by putting the offense in good field position on kick returns.


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