Arguably the NFL’s best kickoff return man is on the move after a Sunday night trade.
Former Northwestern Trojan standout Cordarrelle Patterson is headed from Oakland to the New England Patriots in a deal first reported by Barstool Sports. The teams will swap Patterson and late round picks in the upcoming NFL Draft.
The move helps New England fill a need after its main kick returner, Dion Lewis, signed with the Tennessee Titans in free agency. Patterson joins fellow Rock Hill native and former South Pointe Stallion Stephon Gilmore on the current Patriots’ roster. Rick Sanford and Benjamin Watson, two other former Northwestern Trojans, also played with the Patriots during their NFL careers.
Patterson was with Oakland for just one season after joining the Raiders in free agency. He spent the first four years of his career in Minnesota, which drafted him in the first round in 2013.
Patterson played in all 16 games last season, starting two for the Raiders. He caught 31 passes for 309 yards and carried the ball 13 times, scoring a pair of touchdowns. He returned 19 kickoffs for 538 yards, an average of 28.3 yards per return.
Patterson has suffered from the NFL’s rules de-emphasizing kick returns, though. The number of kickoffs he’s returned has dropped every year he’s been in the NFL, in large part because kickers, starting from the 25-yard line instead of the 20, are blasting kickoffs over Patterson’s head and through the end zone for touchbacks.
But he’s still a weapon when he does get his hands on the football. Patterson has amassed 4,613 yards on kickoff returns since entering the league, according to Pro-Football-Reference.com, a full 1,400 yards more than the player with the second most kick return yards since 2013, now-retired Devin Hester.
Patterson’s five touchdowns are also the most on kickoff returns since 2013, and three more than the four players that are tied for second with two TDs.
Patterson’s willingness to play gunner on the Raiders’ special teams unit last season -- he notched a couple of tackles -- should increase the likelihood that he makes the Patriots’ roster this coming season.
According to ESPN, Patterson was entering the final year of a two-year contract with Oakland and was due a $250,000 workout bonus, on top of his non-guaranteed $3 million salary.