The NFL is converging on Orlando for annual Pro Bowl palate-cleansing between the conference championship games and the Super Bowl. Among them is Pro Bowler Cordarrelle Patterson, who spoke with NFL.com and opened up with his frustrations of being excluded for the Minnesota Vikings offense in the Norv Turner era with the Vikings.
As a rookie before Turner showed up with head coach Mike Zimmer, Patterson made the Pro Bowl as a kick returner and caught 45 passes for 469 yards and four touchdowns and rushed 12 times for 158 yards and three TDs. In Turner’s first year, Patterson’s numbers dropped and, by season’s end, his production dropped to the point that in the final five games he caught just four passes for 34 yards.
Things got even worse in 2015, as Patterson caught just two passes for 10 yards despite playing all 16 games. Few players welcomed the change more at the top of the offense when Turner resigned and was replaced by Pat Shurmur. With the change, Patterson became a focal point of the offense and he was happy to finally be back as a component piece of the offense, which he credited to Shurmur.
“Pat told me, ‘Let’s get you the ball and I saw a lot of that happening to me,” Patterson said. “It was good for me. I love when I get the ball in my hands and Pat likes to get the ball to me. No matter who you are, he’s trying to spread the ball around. He’s not going to focus on one or two guys.”
Unlike Turner’s approach, which centered alternately on a limited number of receivers, Patterson felt that every receiver on the Vikings roster would get a chance to contribute if he was on the game-day roster.
“I felt like Pat was more of a player’s coach,” Patterson said. “He kind of got it. He was trying to do some different things than Norv was doing.”
Given his experience with being a special teams player almost exclusively for the better part of two full seasons spread over three years – coinciding with Turner’s tenure – as he hits the free agent market, his priorities won’t just be about money.
He wasn’t fully incorporated into the offense until the offense needed to change with the loss of Adrian Peterson and his targets and production went up markedly when Shurmur gave him the chance. As the dollar amount, number of years and guaranteed money will factor into his next deal, his role in the offense will be just as important, if not more so.
If he doesn’t get that guarantee, he’ll move on to the next team.
“Two years I spent damn near on the sideline,” Patterson said. “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.”
This is a unique time for Patterson. The timing of his re-emergence coincides with him becoming a free agent – the only of the three first-round picks from 2013 that wasn’t extended the fifth-year option. Apparently, he’s looking forward to the situation playing out, although he sounds like he’s going to get into a little R&R before he kicks it back into gear to make a good impression on a potential suitor.
“It’s kind of exciting,” Patterson said. “I’ve never been a free agent. It’s like coming out of college again. You never know what’s going to happen. You never know where you’re going to go. It’s a lot of excitement to me. It’ll feel good to lay around for a little bit and kick my feet up.”
So will Patterson end up a Viking in 2017? That’s the eight-figure question.
The Vikings likely have a good idea. Patterson likely has a relatively good idea. But, until pen gets put to paper on a contract, anything could happen.
“I really don’t know,” Patterson said. “It’s all up to the Vikings. I’m a free agent starting in March and it’s all what the Vikings to do. If they want me back, they’ll (sign me) and get me back.”
- Zimmer is scheduled for yet another surgery on his right eye, which suffered a detached retina during the season. The surgery is scheduled for April and Zimmer is hopeful that this surgery will be the last required and that it will finally fix that problems that cause him a scare during the 2016 season.
- The Indianapolis Colts are scheduled to meet with Vikings Assistant General Manager George Paton either later this week or early next week.
- One of the players at the Senior Bowl this week is UCLA offensive tackle Conor McDermott, the brother of Vikings long snapper Kevin McDermott.