The Falcons have had several excellent free agent signings over the years. Alex Mac came to Atlanta and led the offensive line in the Super Bowl while hitting a Pro Bowl ticket multiple times. Cordarelle Patterson recently turned a one-year, $3 million deal into a two-year, $10.5 million deal after a career year in 2021.

Patterson set career highs in receiving, rushing and total touchdowns – 618 rushing yards (4.0 YPC), six rushing touchdowns, 548 receiving yards (10.5 YPR) and five touchdowns on reception. He was actually the first player in franchise history to record 500 rushing and receiving yards. And even despite the salary increase to $5 million AAV, Patterson’s new contract is considered the Falcon’s best deal, according to PFF.

Cornerback Casey Hayward Jr.’s two-year, $11 million pact signed this offseason was also under consideration here, as he looks to frame and create a formidable pairing against rising star cornerback AJ Terrell. His transition to a different defensive scheme will be interesting to watch, but the savvy veteran will most likely find that out in short order.

Cordarrelle Patterson, on the other hand, is as comfortable as can be on offense as Arthur Smith enters Year 2 after a veritable breakout campaign mostly at running back. Patterson had a career-best 81.3 in 2021, battling for three yards per attempt after initial contact by a defender, a league top-20 rating.

It also doesn’t hurt that he has a legitimate case as the best kick returner in NFL history.

Regardless of who PFF thinks is the Falcons’ best contract, I think by the end of the season Hayward will be considered the best contract because of the impact he will have on the field and in the hall. cornerbacks. I spoke at length about how I believe Patterson could be in line for a serious regression.

Patterson is coming off a season where he recorded career-best numbers; however, that also means he’s also had the most attacking touches of his career, which certainly has an impact on the body. It looks like the Falcons are already taking steps to address those issues as well, as they’ve implemented a custom off-season roster for the veteran.

Given the running back additions, I think Patterson is in line for regression. Atlanta added Tyler Allgeier, Damien Williamsand Avery Williams in the backfield this offseason, so I wouldn’t be shocked if Patterson’s role shrinks in 2022. The team just won’t have to rely on him as much, so his touches should go down. Add to the fact that the Falcons clearly want to keep it fresh year-round; again, his numbers will suffer. His last four games of the 2022 season were an example of what this type of exhaustion can do to a player; this four-game streak was quite atypical compared to what he had done all year, which could have been due to the huge workload. I would expect at least 100 fewer receiving and rushing yards as well as a significant drop in total touchdowns this season.

Photographer: Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire

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