Minnesota Vikings wide receiver and kick return extraordinaire Cordarrelle Patterson has been named to the Associated Press (AP) NFL All-Pro Team. Patterson is the only Vikings representative on the list and his inclusion on this year’s team is his second since entering the league in 2013.
Patterson averaged an NFL-best 31.7 yards per kick return this season, finishing the year with four returns for at least 40 yards and a lone, 104-yard touchdown against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 11. His ranking among returners helped Patterson set a record, as he’s the only player in NFL history to lead the league in kickoff return average three times (2013, 2015, 2016).
Each year, a nationwide panel of 50 sports writers and broadcasters who regularly cover the NFL vote for the All-Pro team; a collection of the league’s best players at each position. Patterson was last on the team after his rookie season in 2013, when he averaged 34.2 yards per kick return and scored two touchdowns.
The timing of Patterson’s honor couldn’t be better for the fourth-year pro, who is set to become a free agent this offseason and will likely demand a lucrative new contract. The Vikings did not exercise Patterson’s fifth-year option in May and instead used those designations on Xavier Rhodes and Sharrif Floyd.
If the Vikings had, in fact, picked up Patterson’s fifth-year this past offseason, they’d owe the former Tennessee Volunteer $7.9 million in 2017. Given his resurgence as a receiver — 52 catches, 453 yards, two touchdowns — in Pat Shurmur’s new-look offense, Patterson will likely demand that money from another wide receiver-needy team in free agency.
But the Vikings, who just drafted Laquon Treadwell and enjoyed near 1,000-yard seasons from Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs, aren’t in a disadvantageous negotiating position with Patterson. If general manager Rick Spielman wasn’t willing to pay Patterson nearly $8 million per year before the season, it’s hard to imagine he’ll sign the receiver to Tavon Austin money, as Matt Vensel suggested he’ll demand in March.