Question Of The Week

VT Question of the Week: If Forced to Keep Just 5 WRs, Who Makes the Cut?

Minnesota has some depth at wide receiver this season, and six main guys are standing out as major competitors for the final 53-man roster: veteran Mike Wallace, Cordarrelle Patterson, Adam Thielen, Jarius Wright, Charles Johnson and rookie Stefon Diggs. Although the general belief is that the Vikings will end up hanging onto all six guys, we decided to have a discussion. If Minnesota only keeps five receivers, which player doesn’t make the cut? 

Adam: Cordarrelle Patterson
Wallace and Johnson are totally safe. Wright is too good to consider, despite the fact that he may not be a Viking after his contract year. Diggs is a recent investment that has no chance of going anywhere, especially with the proficiency he has displayed so far in training camp and preseason. The decision really comes down to Patterson and Thielen, which is an incredibly difficult decision to make.

I loved Patterson coming out of college and thought he displayed a lot of traits of a first-round receiver, despite being raw. However, I’m losing patience with the “raw” label he has been given and feel like he has even regressed under the current coaching staff. I don’t see the “those legs never stop churning” efforts that I noticed on his college tape anymore and have to wonder if he’ll even get a chance to prove his worth as a true receiver before his rookie contract has expired. He is a wild card at this point, and sticking with him over a guy like Thielen could be a gamble.

Thielen, on the other hand, has greatly exceeded expectations and has a knack for being exactly in the right spot at exactly the right time. He is speedy, displays dependable catching abilities, and has tremendous value on special teams.

If I had to cut one of these guys right here and right now, Adam Thielen is the better football player. I would rather cut Patterson and have him make that decision look stupid by succeeding elsewhere than keep him and have me look stupid right here in Minnesota.

Either way, a bursting depth chart at this position is a nice problem to have and I hope they decide to carry six. If not, then Rick Spielman has a dandy of a decision on his hands that carries real-life ramifications unlike this little experiment of ours.

Brian: Adam Thielen
When all is said and done, I believe the Vikings keep 6 WRs and they all stay. I say, if any of them get cut, it’s Thielen. He’s a valuable player given his ability to play several roles but he probably has limited upside as well. The first three are set. Diggs is a rookie they won’t take a chance on cutting and, as frustrating as he can be, they can’t give up on Patterson’s potential yet.

Brent: Cordarrelle Patterson
Although I’m pretty sure they keep six WRs (Didn’t Norv say they would?), my one cut would be Cordarrelle Patterson. It would sting cutting a player with so much raw talent, but Patterson seems to be a one-trick pony so far, and I question his motivation to work hard enough to get better as an all-around wide out. The assumption might be that Thielen is the odd man out, but his ability to play different roles on special teams makes him too versatile to cut. Also, from the looks of it, there is no way you can sneak Stefon Diggs through waivers to the practice squad, nor do I think you’d want to try.

Lindsey: Cordarrelle Patterson
I also think the Vikings will probably keep all six receivers, although I would be fine with seeing them cut Patterson. I boarded the CP train along with everyone else his rookie year. The raw talent was clear, and it seemed that it would just be a short waiting game before the other part, the technical part, would catch up with Patterson’s athleticism. And yet, we’re still waiting. The problem for me isn’t necessarily about talent—or lack thereof—but about Patterson’s attitude. The perception is that he doesn’t see the need to improve or be mentored in the technicalities. He comes across as un-coachable, and that is something that we all know Mike Zimmer won’t have any patience for. At this point in the game, I don’t see things with Patterson changing. I know the other player “on the bubble” per se is Adam Thielen, and I believe that Thielen is a much bigger asset to the roster, and to the locker room, than Patterson. Thielen’s work ethic is incredible, and he’s demonstrated a ton of versatility. If given the choice, I would take Thielen over Patterson any day of the week.

Carl: Cordarrelle Patterson
Keeping six receivers isn’t the norm in the NFL, but the potential and versatility of this group makes the idea of keeping six wideouts a must-do situation for the Vikings. Mike Wallace, Charles Johnson, Jarius Wright, Cordarrelle Patterson and Stefon Diggs are locks to make the final roster. I’m a huge Adam Thielen fan as well, and there is just no way under purple creation that you can cut a guy with that much special teams value and talent. He is a reliable blocker on the punt return unit, he can return punts in his own right, even block punts, and… he also collected 12 tackles last season on the kick coverage unit. No, I wouldn’t cut any of them. However, with that said, I did talk about finding a trade partner/value for Patterson before the draft. All I’m saying now is, if the Vikings can’t keep six, why not get what you can for Patterson or maybe Wright?

OK, If I have to cut one, it is Patterson. His taunting penalty versus the Buccaneers proves he cannot stay out of Zimmer’s dog house.

 

Andy: Cordarrelle Patterson
Pretty obvious answer, but even though Cordarrelle is still on “Upside Scholarship,” he’s clearly the weakest of the six at the moment. Sure, it was nice that he scored a touchdown against the Bucs after running an awkward route, but he followed it up with an inexcusable taunting penalty where Zimmer may have deported him had this been the regular season. Everyone and their mother knows this was the most important offseason of CP’s football career (complete with a mystery coach that got beaten to the point where no one cared anymore), but frankly we haven’t seen the dividends of the renewed “focus and work ethic” in training camp or preseason so far. It’s been the same story, different day with Cordarrelle.

That being said, I don’t think the Vikings would outright release him. I could see them carrying six receivers through the season just out of spite and not wanting to give up on Patterson. Also some team in need of receiver help (Carolina? Cleveland?) would likely give up a late-round conditional pick for him. He’s streaky, aloof, and unproductive, but someone would still trade for him. Teams and fanbases LOVE potential.

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Lindsey Young

Lindsey Young (Featured Columnist) is a graduate of University of Northwestern – St. Paul and is an avid Minnesota sports fan[atic]. It’s been argued females don’t know much about sports, but she begs to differ. Her work has been featured on Bleacher Report, KSTP.com, and Fox Sports North. In addition to her work with VT, Lindsey is a contributing writer for Canis Hoopus, runs a bi-monthly fan feature for Timberwolves.com and is a freelance writer for Vikings.com. You can read her blog at Making the Call and follow her on Twitter.

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21 Comments

  1. My 5 WR corp would be Wallace, Johnson, Wright, Diggs, Thielen, but obviously I think too that we’ll have a 6 receiving corp for RS week 1. However, honestly I’d like to see more Patterson and Thielen actions on the field, in this 3 remaining preseason games. Give ’em the ball, and let’s see what happens. It’s true, CP84 showed no discipline against Bucs, but “THE OTHER 84” too wasn’t exactly a quiet man, and you believe that this would bring coach Zimmer to cut him?

    I think that any coach would go beyond character issues, with clear skills and heavy production on the table, so I’d like to see Patterson receive as many balls as possible to say “man, he deserves to be part of this group or he doesn’t”. On the other hand it’s preseason time, and for sure we don’t have to realize how Wallace, Johnson or Wright are good, but exactly if and how much Patterson and also Thielen have grown as receiver.

    1. I might agree with the general concept of that statement, but the problem is this: Patterson has not been effective as a kick returner recently. He really wasn’t all that impressive there in 2014, and I would actually argue that Thielen is more effective on special teams overall. Just my two cents 🙂

      1. To be fair, “recently” is a single season — a season where we shifted to playing outdoors (CP’s indoor kick return average is comparable to his 2013 average, for what it’s worth). It’s also impossible to deny that teams have made a special point of kicking away from him, which has also benefited our average starting field position. According to Football Perspective, Patterson’s 2013 return season was the best return season on record. Even if that’s a slight exaggeration, it’s a bit harsh to complain about regression towards the mean (lest we criticize Peterson for *only* 1266 yards in 2013, which represents more of a regression).
        None of this is to criticize Thielen, who I think deserves recognition and playing time. I just can’t convince myself that anything Thielen brings to the field eclipses Patterson’s value as a return man alone.

          1. I think it’s funny that people would cut Patterson in order to keep Thielen. I love Thielen, but he is the definition of a replacement player. He is what he is – at best a 4th WR for your team, most likely a 5th WR and special teams contributer. Patterson’s WR ceiling is ??? Could be your 4th or 5th guy, could be your #3 or #2 guy if he puts it together. As a special teams player, Patterson is a game changer. I would argue that on value alone, Patterson comes out ahead.

            Furthermore, Patterson has shown ability to produce as a WR, in the running game, and the return game, and everyone agrees that he’s still a significant work in progress. He’s physically and athletically superior to most DBs he faces, and you can’t coach that. Thielen has become somewhat like the Marcus Sherels of offense in that you can never count him out, but Thielen is never going to become more than he is. I don’t see how you can justify cutting Patterson to keep Thielen. I really don’t.

            The proof is in the pudding – even with Patterson and Rudolph out, how much could Thielen find the field last year? Not very much. http://pfref.com/tiny/KkuO3

            And Patterson is a year younger than Thielen.

            I think people’s expectations of what they think Patterson should be by now is clouding their valuation of him compared to a guy who had zero expectations and has exceeded them. And of all the WR’s most likely to get cut, I think Jarius Wright has to be the dark horse to be traded in order to make way for Stefon Diggs.

            1. Your POV is valuable, and you can’t even imagine how much I’d like to see back the all-around and versatile Patterson we saw in the 2013 season, but the point is: between Thielen and Patterson who’s had the best 2014 season and consequently has made more under coach Zimmer? Patterson had an outstanding week 1 in St. Louis, but unfortunately his run ended there. Thielen instead had not only a quite good receiving season, although he has played little, but he had also an outstanding special team season. But we’re not just talking about a couple tackle, we’re talking about blocked and returned to endzone punt.

              But probably the most important thing is that between Patterson and Thielen the one who showed the best feeling with Teddy is the second one. This is not a secondary fact, because you can be the best and talented WR on the earth but if your connection with your QB is equal to zero you’ll never prove to be the best.

              So on my previous post I said let’s play Patterson so finally we can see how much he can be a factor in this team. He has all the tools to be not a roster add, but the most dangerous WR in this team, but I think that he also need more room to show his improvements.

  2. Yeah nice job Lindsay nice question just to tee up Patterson obviously you don’t like him . The guys awesome They just need to give them the ball more. Peterson had a lot of times where he got 0 yards. You guys don’t like his attitude. I’m not crazy about it either , he acts like a flamboyant woman , but all he needs is a couple good runs and he will be insane again

    1. I was actually the one that suggested this week’s question. Not because I wanted an opportunity to bag on Patterson (I love the guy and hope he plays lights out), but because I thought it was an honestly tough question to answer. I also am not sold on the Vikings keeping all six of these guys through the final cuts, unless one ends up on PUP. Not impossible, just not taking it as a certainty at this point.

    2. Lindsey (spell it right, man) is just a pawn in Adam’s game. He’s nefarious that way. I once saw him all but have a gunslinger challenge him to a duel with some weird Sproles gambit.

  3. Honestly, I’d cut Wallace. He gets paid the most, he is the oldest, and I personally feel he is going downhill since his time with the Steelers. The cases made for Patterson are pretty strong, though. If the Vikes DO end up cutting someone from the WR corps they definitely won’t be out of a job for very long.

    1. Cut the high dollar free agent we just signed, who hadn’t played a single down for the Vikings? Wow dude

      1. They traded for him, actually. They cut Jennings, who then signed with Miami. We basically traded a pick and Jennings for Wallace’s higher $ contract and younger age to “take the top off the defense” which Wallace hasn’t done since he was in Pittsburgh, when he had a cannon by the name of Big Ben throwing him 50/50 balls. Teddy is closer to Tannehill then he is to Big Ben, I don’t see why everyone automatically assumes great production from him (Wallace). The first things to go in an older player are their speed and agility..which is what Wallace’s game thrives on. He’s never been a deceptive route runner in my opinion, either.

        It’s all hypothetical as they’re not cutting below 6 WR’s, but if it were my roster on Madden or whatever I’d cut the expensive old dude in Wallace and roll with the younger guys.

  4. You’re not going to cut any of them. Both Patterson and Wright are tradeable assets and if they decide to go with 5 WR’s one of them is likely headed out via a final cut day trade. I think the smart thing to do would be to trade Wright because I don’t think he’s coming back next year with the addition of Diggs to the core. However, it’s become pretty obvious Patterson does not fit in Norv’s offense. He was drafted to replace Percy’s skill-set and Norv does not seem to value that in WR’s. Norv wants his backs and TE’s to have versatility. His WR’s need to be pure WR’s and that simply isn’t what Patterson is. You don’t cut the guy though. Other OC’s in the league can maximize his abilities by catering the offense to what he does best like Musgrave did his rookie year. Hopefully they can get a decent trade offer if they do decide to move on.

    1. I had to give that comment a big ol’ “like.”

      I don’t feel bad about doing that. As a matter of fact, if push came to shove, I might have unprotected sex with that comment and create a litter of similar comments to inundate the innerwebs with a similar stream of unflinching and unapologetic logic.

      That’s all I got to say about that.

        1. I’m curious to see how Patterson gets used this year in Norv’s offense. I can’t remember where I read it, but someone over at DN I think did a three part series on expectations for this year and made an observation (I believe) about Norv favoring more open space matchups to take advantage of current defensive tendencies. Thus you see the Vikings going out of their way to acquire guys with great speed and agility (Diggs, Patterson, McKinnon, AP, Pruitt) to carve up defenses with the short/mid passing game while still accounting for Norv’s plays to TEs/CJ/Wallace up the field and AP hammering up the middle. Basically everyone knows Norv will try to kill you through the tackles and over the top, so what do you do when you sprinkle in Diggs/Patterson/McKinnon in space? I think that’s the prediction anyways.

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