Cordarrelle Patterson will become a free agent at the end of the season unless the Vikings elect to pick up his fifth-year option.
In 2013, the Minnesota Vikings traded a second, a third, a fourth and a seventh to the New England Patriots to move up to the #29 overall pick in the draft and select former Tennessee wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson.
The move hasn’t worked out quite the way the Vikings wanted and now it seems likely that 2016 will mark the end of the Patterson experiment in Minnesota.
The Vikings do hold a fifth-year option on Patterson that would be worth $7.195 million, that money only becoming guaranteed in the event of injury. The deadline for picking up that option is May 3.
Most teams elect to pick up such options, seeing them as low-risk propositions, but in Patterson’s case the Vikings would do well to pass and almost surely will. Christian Ponder was the last Vikings first-rounder who was allowed to walk without his option being exercised.
When acquiring Patterson, Minnesota hoped the raw talent would one day develop into a polished weapon. That hasn’t happened and now Patterson like Ponder is widely regarded as a bust.
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What went wrong for Patterson in Minnesota? There are lots of opinions floating around out there.
Some think Patterson’s early success under former offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave demonstrated his value as an X-factor weapon, and believe Minnesota should return to that “get the ball in his hands and let him make plays” approach.
Some would-be offensive masterminds even think the Vikings should convert Patterson to a running back. And take touches away from Adrian Peterson and Jerick McKinnon, evidently.
The biggest Patterson fans argue that current OC Norv Turner has hurt the receiver’s development by not getting him on the field more. Last year Patterson seldom saw the field except as a decoy/blocker in power sets.
Would Patterson have shown more development if given a greater chance? Turner certainly would have given Patterson more opportunities had he believed the player would deliver. Do people think the Vikings shelved Patterson out of a too-conservative nature? Or is it more likely that Patterson simply didn’t do enough to warrant a bigger role in the offense?
Perhaps a more “creative” offensive coordinator could have manufactured more touches for Patterson and gotten somewhat more production, but at some point Patterson had to show the ability to run routes and make catches like a normal receiver, and until recently he never demonstrated that he particularly cared about developing those skills.
This offseason Patterson has made a point of letting everyone know that he’s grinding and getting after it, but it’s easy to dismiss this as mere show from a player who realizes he’s running out of chances.
Poor attitude more than lack of opportunity was the thing that finally sank Patterson’s career in Minnesota. The Vikings identified Patterson’s talent and made a trade to get him, but they could not have predicted that he would turn out to be so unmotivated and immature.
The whole Patterson experience has been a lesson in the perils of taking chances on “raw” talent. Imagine what the Vikings could have done with all those draft picks they gave away in exchange for the privilege of taking Patterson.
Patterson’s value as a return man is of course substantial, but one doesn’t need to trade four picks in order to acquire a good kick returner. Those can be gotten at a much lower price than the Vikings paid.
The only move now is to decline the option and let Patterson hit the market at the end of the year. By that time, maybe he will have shown enough growth to warrant a return to the team on a reasonable deal.
But I’m not holding my breath.