Ex-Vikings All-Pro Heads to Pittsburgh

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Kirk Cousins has been the big name in Skol Nation since the six-year captain exited the organization and joined the NFC South, a winnable division. His task is to guide the Falcons into the postseason after three straight seasons with a 7-10 record. Pro Bowl defender Danielle Hunter is the new running mate of the 2023 third overall selection, Will Anderson.

Ex-Vikings All-Pro Heads to Pittsburgh

Ex-Vikings All-Pro Heads to Pittsburgh
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Some longtime Vikings from the past have also found new clubs, like linebacker Eric Kendricks, who will play under new defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer for the Dallas Cowboys. The latest league-wide movement involves star returner Cordarrelle Patterson, a 2013 first-round pick who signed with Mike Tomlin’s Pittsburgh Steelers.

Ian Rapoport announced on X: “Falcons All-Pro and Pro Bowl returner Cordarrelle Patterson, one of the biggest-name free agents still available, is expected to sign with the Steelers, sources say. He gets a 2-year, $6M deal. As the NFL has altered its kickoff rules, Patterson lands in PIT.”

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In the 2013 draft, general manager Rick Spielman traded up with the New England Patriots to select Tennessee’s dynamic weapon. The former track star tabulated 308 rushing yards and 778 receiving yards in his only season at Tennessee. He scored eight times from scrimmage and twice as a returner.

It took him only two games to log his first career return touchdown for 105 yards. Halfway through his rookie campaign, Patterson added a 109-yarder, which is tied for the longest play in NFL history.

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In 64 games with the Vikings, Patterson rushed for 333 yards and collected 1,316 receiving yards. He never really turned into the dynamic WR Minnesota hoped for. However, he was immediately one of the league’s elite kick returners. Five of his 16 Vikings scores came on kick returns. That’s tied for the all-time lead in franchise history.

Throughout his career, his nine kick return touchdowns are the most in NFL history. The Vikings didn’t extend his rookie contract, and he had stints with the Raiders and Patriots. The latter transitioned him to running back. The Bears employed him for two seasons, and his stint with the Falcons was three seasons.

In the last three campaigns, Patterson played a vital role as a kick returner and running back in Atlanta under fired head coach Arthur Smith. The Steelers hired Smith as their offensive coordinator, and the two now reunite. Patterson’s highest usage as a running back came in 2021 and 2022 in Smith’s offense.

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After 11 years in the NFL, Patterson has totaled 2,511 rushing yards and 22 touchdowns on the ground, as well as 2,795 receiving yards and 16 scores. His all-time record in kick return TDs gives him a shot at the Hall of Fame, especially because Devin Hester’s nomination put return specialists on the map.

He will likely contribute on offense but also continue to return kicks in Pittsburgh. The updated rules should result in more return opportunities.

The 33-year-old member of the 2010s All-Decade team is a four-time Pro Bowler, four-time first-team All-Pro, and three-time second-team All-Pro.

Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt