This series focuses on Denver Broncos whose multi-year deals are nearing the end, key players who were signed to one-year deals, and those playing under restricted free-agent tenders. They're all players eligible for unrestricted free agency in 2022, unless signed to extensions.
The next in this series focuses on wide receiver Tim Patrick, a player who broke out in 2020, but does that mean he'll be back with the Broncos after this year?
Patrick entered the league as an undrafted free agent out of Utah in 2017, signing with the Baltimore Ravens. He was waived in July of that year and the San Francisco 49ers claimed him off waivers. Patrick never took a snap for the Niners and, ultimately, joined the Broncos' practice squad in October.
He made Denver's 53-man roster in 2018 and was a depth and special teams player, catching 23 passes from Case Keenum for 315 yards and one touchdown. Patrick only played in eight games in 2019, catching 16 passes for 218 yards.
Last year, after Courtland Sutton was lost in Week 2 to an ACL injury, Patrick entered the starting lineup and was productive, catching 51 passes on 79 targets with a team-high six touchdowns. The Broncos placed the second-round restricted free-agent tender on Patrick this offseason.
Why he May be Back in 2022
Patrick is a tall receiver who can go up and make tough catches. Even with Sutton returning, Patrick gives the Broncos a good depth player and somebody who can contribute on special teams.
Patrick will turn 28 years old in November, so he still has plenty of football ahead of him.
Why he May Not be Back in 2022
If Sutton comes back at full strength and plays well in 2021, he'll be first in line for a contract extension. In such an event, Patrick may want the chance to start but wouldn't likely find it in Denver if Sutton is retained.
If the likes of Jerry Jeudy and KJ Hamler continue to improve in 2021, it only further minimizes Patrick's odds of wanting to stay in Denver, even if the Broncos pushed to re-sign him.
Patrick will have a lot of competition for targets this season — the Broncos' wide receiver depth chart is arguably the strongest it has been since the Peyton Manning era. Patrick will likely enter the season as a starter-caliber role player, but the chance is there for him to garner meaningful snaps depending on the trajectory of Hamler in particular.
Putting Patrick and Sutton together on the boundary, with Jeudy and Hamler interchanging in the slot, could make things difficult on opposing defenses.
Patrick was a great story in 2020, but it's going to be hard for him to build his production further, given how the team has cultivated the wideout position and just how many receivers will compete for targets. As for his future with the Broncos, the only way Patrick stays is if Sutton doesn't play well while Patrick comes up big.
If Sutton plays well, there's an outside chance Patrick could be retained as a depth player, but it's more likely he will look for opportunities elsewhere.
Odds he'll be back in 2022: Low.
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