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PFF Breakout Player of the Year: Falcons Cordarrelle Patterson

Pro Football Focus honored journeyman after career year

Cordarrelle Patterson has been in the NFL since 2013, but it took coach Arthur Smith and the Atlanta Falcons to unlock his potential in 2021.

And they did so by playing Patterson primarily as a running back.

The 30-year-old Patterson, originally a first-round draft pick at wide receiver by the Minnesota Vikings, set career highs in receiving yards (548), receiving touchdowns (5), rushing yards (618) and rushing touchdowns (6).

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For his good work, he was named the Breakout Player of the Year by Pro Football Focus.

Patterson has always shown potential with the ball in his hands. He’s been first-team All-Pro as a kickoff returner four different times, including 2019 and 2020 with the Chicago Bears.

The New England Patriots dabbled with the idea of playing Patterson out of the backfield instead of receiver. He had 42 carries for 228 yards in 2018.

The Bears continued the trend and Patterson set a career high for carries with 64 in 2020. He nearly doubled that in 2021 with the Falcons, with 153 rushing attempts.

Patterson was arguably the MVP of the Atlanta Falcons. He was injured in the second quarter Week 10 against the Dallas Cowboys, and the Falcons failed to score a point in the following six quarters.

Patterson signed a one-year contract with the Falcons prior to the season and is set to hit free agency. Spotrac puts Patterson’s value at $9.1 million as a free agent, which would likely put him out of the Falcons' price range.

Atlanta has to hope the market isn’t quite as hot for a soon to be 31-year-old running back who needed nine seasons and five teams to have his breakout year.