A Former Viking Is The Joker

Image Courtesy of Pixabay.com.

The Atlanta Falcons thought outside the box this week, creating a new depth chart position and assigning it to former Minnesota Vikings WR-RB Cordarrelle Patterson.

A Former Viking Is The Joker

NFL teams released unofficial depth charts with the regular season kicking off Thursday night, and when Atlanta revealed its edition, a mysterious J lived at the bottom of the offense section.

And that’s Patterson’s “new” gig — he’s the Joker.

the Joker
Sep 29, 2013; London, UNITED KINGDOM; Minnesota Vikings receivers Jarius Wright (17), Cordarrelle Patterson (84), and Joe Webb (14) celebrate in the final minute in the NFL International Series game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Wembley Stadium. The Vikings defeated the Steelers 34-27. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

This is how folks know the meaning of J; Patterson tweeted the connection personally.

Since leaving the Vikings after the 2016 season, Patterson transformed into a running back after Minnesota originally drafted him from Tennesee with “WR” attached to his resume. Patterson also returned kicks for the Vikings — one of the best in NFL history to perform the task — but was untapped as a running back in purple.

Now, his hybrid job description, which spans about six years since a stop with the New England Patriots in 2018, has the Joker title.

the Vikings Turn
Dec 24, 2022; Baltimore, Maryland, USA; Atlanta Falcons running back Cordarrelle Patterson (84) enters the field during the game against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports.

The Falcoholic’s Dave Choate described the Joker development on Tuesday, “While the league may not be thrilled with Arthur Smith’s carefree attitude toward depth chart organization — the Falcons not only have twelve listed starters, but I can’t recall that I’ve seen Joker actually listed out as a position on an NFL depth chart before — the designation makes a ton of sense for what Patterson’s role is expected to be and frankly should be in this offense.”

Atlanta employs rookie Bijan Robinson and veteran Tyler Allgeier at running back, so keeping Patterson glued to the roster apparently needed some semantic creativity.

Oct 27, 2013; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson (84) returns a kickoff for a touchdown during the first quarter against the Green Bay Packers at Mall of America Field at H.H.H. Metrodome. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports.

Sean Payton, now the Denver Broncos head coach, once described the Joker roster assignment, “The ‘Joker’ player for us is not a receiver. It’s either a running back or a tight end with exceptional ball skills, and then you can work matchups. We’ve had that at the running back position. Reggie Bush was the ‘Joker,’ Darren Sproles, and Alvin Kamara. Those were all unique players, not just in the running game, but they had passing game skill sets that allowed you to do multiple things.”

The Vikings drafted Patterson in the 1st Round of the 2013 NFL Draft, an explosive event for the franchise as it selected three men in Round 1. Except Patterson wasn’t really a wide receiver, so the aftermath of his addition to the Vikings roster was muted. The man was a phenomenal special teams player — returning kicks left and right for touchdowns — but he never busted out as a true-blue WR1 as his draft stock would suggest.

Nov 27, 2022; Landover, Maryland, USA; Washington Commanders safety Darrick Forrest (22) chases Atlanta Falcons running back Cordarrelle Patterson (84) at FedExField. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports.

Patterson went on to join the Raiders, Patriots, Bears, and Falcons after his final 2016 campaign in Minnesota. Starting in New England, Patterson embraced a hybrid role, playing some running back while still returning kicks like a madman and catching passes here and there. He also served as a default RB1 for parts of the Falcons 2021 and 2022 seasons.

And now, with Bijan Robinson emphatically in town, Patterson is the Joker.

The Vikings play the Falcons — and the Joker — in Atlanta on November 5th.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by OverTheCap.com.