The Vikings have set the bar for jettisoning players as part of general manager Rick Spielman’s desire to get more players that fit in the systems that are now in their second year with Mike Zimmer on defense and Norv Turner on offense.
Tuesday’s trade of Gerald Hodges for a sixth-round pick and an undrafted center from the Ivy League was proof of the value Spielman puts in draft picks. Because of injuries to the offensive line, the Vikings gave up a sixth-round pick to San Diego to land Jeremiah Sirles. Spielman got that pick back (he’s hoping higher in the sixth round) and a live body who was drafted to fit a need in the Leslie Frazier defense, not the Zimmer defense.
Now it begs the question, if a player like Hodges – who was viewed as someone who could start at middle linebacker during training camp and could be groomed as the full-time replacement for Chad Greenway – what is Cordarrelle Patterson worth?
As a rookie in 2013 – and a draft classmate of Hodges in the final vestiges of the Frazier-Musgrave ticket – Patterson was electric. He was asked to fill a role that was once held by Percy Harvin and he excelled. With Turner? Not so much.
It didn’t happen.
Patterson was on the field for 17 plays, 23 percent of the plays the Vikings offense ran at a time that, with the exception of Adrian Peterson’s 48-yard touchdown run, the running game was bottled up on a consistent basis and forced the Vikings to pass. Of those 17 plays, he was targeted once. To his credit, he caught it for a 9-yard gain.
But special teams ace Adam Thielen was on the field for 59 plays (80 percent of the offensive snaps). Fifth-round rookie Stefon Diggs, who was inactive for the first three games and pressed into duty because of the Johnson-Wright injuries, was on the field for 41 plays (55 percent).
Diggs was targeted 10 times, catching six passes for a team-high 87 yards. Thielen was targeted eight times, catching six of them for 70 yards. Patterson was targeted once.
It’s clear that Turner prefers players like Johnson and Diggs – guys he helped bring in – over Patterson, who, like Hodges, was a product of a previous regime.
“He’s made so, so, so many strides from where he was a year ago and he’s continuing to make strides,” Spielman said of Patterson. “As these coaches evaluate our personnel, the one that Zim always preaches is team comes first before any stats. As our guys are learning these guys and they have a pretty good feel, but they’re still: what are we? Now you have an Adrian Peterson in your backfield. Cordarrelle, you couldn’t ask for a kid who’s working as hard as he can. And there are specific packages that he may be involved with.”
The question now becomes what is Patterson worth on the open market? To a team in need at wide receiver (eyes are cast in the direction of Jerry Jones), is Patterson worth a third-round pick? Probably not. A fourth-rounder? Now we may be talking.
The Vikings have done nothing to showcase Patterson as a viable trade-bait option, so it’s a buyer’s market. Every draft room that gave Patterson high marks based upon their college scouting likely think the Vikings are squandering an opportunity.
Spielman points to certain offensive packages that Patterson could be used in, but he hasn’t been used much.
“It’s not about, ‘This guy has to start every play. This guy has to start a play.’ It’s with the combination of guys we have on this roster, what gives our team and in what packages can we use these players in that gives us the best opportunity to win games and ultimately that’s why team is so emphasized here is because we want to use our guys (for) the end result,” Spielman said. “It’s not about whether you rush for 8 million yards or you have 150 catches. It’s about are we doing everything we can to win as a team and that’s the most important thing.”
Sadly, the Vikings have done more to drop Patterson’s market value than anyone else. It seems obvious that, when Johnson and Wright come back to the lineup, Thielen and Diggs have taken strides to carve their role in the part-time nature of Nos. 4 and 5 receivers.
What has Patterson done? Set himself up to be the sixth man in a five-player wide receiver room.
Sounds like trading time.