One of the first mistakes Jon Gruden made when he first took over the Raiders back in 2018 was not trying to re-sign Cordarrelle Patterson. He was the team’s top return man in 2017 and already had three All-Pro selections under his belt. While teams don’t seem to worry too much about having an elite kick returner, it’s certainly nice to have.
Since leaving the Raiders, Patterson has made three All-Pro teams as a returner. He spent the last two seasons with the Chicago Bears and is on the move again. According to Mike Garafolo of NFL Network, Patterson is signing a one-year deal with the Atlanta Falcons.
The #Falcons have agreed to terms with WR/returner Cordarrelle Patterson on a one-year, $3 million deal, source says. The four-time All-Pro selection officially headed to Atlanta.
— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) April 15, 2021
Even at 30-years-old, Patterson can still be a weapon for teams. He has eight career kick return touchdowns and one in each of the last three seasons. He also led the NFL last season with an average of 29.3 yards per return. Patterson is one of the best kick returners in the history of the NFL and has shown no signs of slowing down yet.
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Should Raiders Use Henry Ruggs to Return More Kicks?
Over the last few years, the Raiders haven’t made many impact plays in special teams. They’ve only gotten one special teams touchdown in the last three seasons. Jalen Richard is decent as a kick returner but has a low ceiling while Hunter Renfrow has been a very solid punt returner
Renfrow seems to be the right guy to have return punts but they might need to get more creative with kicks. 2020 first-round pick Henry Ruggs had a disappointing rookie season. He was supposed to be Tyreek Hill but was closer to Darrius Heyward-Bey. If he continues to struggle as a wide receiver, the Raiders should consider using him more in kick returns. He’s easily one of the fastest guys in the NFL. Ruggs did return seven kicks last season but didn’t make any big plays. Perhaps Las Vegas tries to put him in that position more often. Hill was an elite returner before the Kansas City Chiefs realized he was a great wide receiver.
What to Expect From Ruggs in 2021
The Raiders really need to hope that Ruggs develops into a star. They passed on the likes of CeeDee Lamb, Jerry Jeudy and Justin Jefferson to draft him. If he’s a bust, that will go down as one of the worst draft decisions ever.
Luckily, it’s far too early to suggest Ruggs is a bust. Though his rookie season was disappointing, he’s got an excellent skill set and work ethic. Last season was very unorthodox due to COVID-19 and rookies didn’t get to spend a whole of time with the team. That could have affected Ruggs more than it did other rookies. Jon Gruden is known to have a very complicated offense. It’s possible the young wide receiver just didn’t have enough time to learn everything. This upcoming season will give the Raiders a much better chance to see what they have in Ruggs.
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