For seven years, Mike Patterson was a mainstay in the middle of Philadelphia's defensive line. He was drafted No. 31 overall in 2005 and played in all 16 games during his rookie season; making 45 tackles and registering four sacks. Although Patterson would never surpass four sacks in a season, he was very productive for the Eagles throughout 2011 and only missed two games during the course of his first seven NFL seasons.
Last year, though, Patterson came down with pneumonia and was only able to play in five games with just six tackles and a sack to show for it. Although Patterson is back to full health this season, the Eagles elected to cut him in order to save $3 million in cap space. That might be because Patterson is considered too small to play nose tackle, which is a vital position in new defensive coordinator Bill Davis' 3-4 scheme.
Fortunately for Patterson, the Giants still run a 4-3, and the team had a need for a defensive tackle following the offseason departures of Rocky Bernard and Chris Canty. With fellow Eagles' castoffs Cullen Jenkins and veteran Shaun Rogers already in place, Patterson won't be asked to be a vital piece of New York's defense, but it's still true that there is no such thing as too much depth in the NFL.
Patterson has been a very consistent player over the years, and that track record will help balance out the erratic play of Marvin Austin in his first two years with the Giants. Austin missed his entire 2011 rookie season with a torn pectoral muscle and had trouble working his way into the lineup in 2012. It wouldn't be surprising to hear that the Giants were hoping for Patterson to mentor Austin in addition to providing some much-needed punch to a rush defense that was subpar last season.
Patterson signed a one-year contract with the Giants this April for just under one million dollars. He's expected to be a solid backup behind projected starters Jenkins and Linval Joseph, but there's probably also a leadership factor in play here. Like we already discussed, the Giants could be hoping that Patterson helps them get more out of Austin, who has been a bust during his first two seasons. Now that the draft has taken place, rookie John Hankins is also in the fold, and he comes attached with work ethic questions. Sounds like another mentoring job for a steady veteran like Patterson.
As far as on-field production goes, Patterson will probably just be a rotation guy if everyone is healthy. If he's pressed into full-time duty, the Giants would likely want Patterson to notch 35 tackles and a pair of sacks like he in his last full season with Philadelphia.
It's hard to find a way to criticize a move that spends less than one million dollars on a player who is 30 years old and has a history of production like Patterson does. As long as he stays healthy, Patterson is bound to give the Giants at least something this season, and his veteran presence at the defensive tackle position is something that New York needs. Even more valuable to the Giants is Patterson's history in rush defense, which is an area that the team struggled in last season. Patterson may not be able to get out on the edge and chase down Washington's Robert Griffin III, but he still should be able to slow down a guy like Alfred Morris between the tackles.
The NFL is all about passing the football and beating the other team to the edge these days, but there's still something to be said for a stout up-the-middle defense. The Giants had issues in all facets on defense last season, and a cheap veteran import like Patterson isn't going to solve any problems, but he's certainly a guy who can help.