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Patriots 2019 free agency profile: Cordarrelle Patterson’s value as a role player cannot be underestimated

The wide receiver is entering free agency after only one year in New England.

New England Patriots Practice Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The New England Patriots ended the 2018 season in the best possible way, by defeating the Los Angeles Rams to win Super Bowl 53. In order to stay on top of the NFL mountain, though, the organization will have to quickly turn the page to get itself into a position to create the best possible team for the 2019 season. And a big part of building such a team is mastering the upcoming free agency.

If judged by the list of free agents to be, New England’s front office will be busy over the next week before the new league year officially is kicked off on March 13. Also over the next week, we will take a look at the free agents-to-be to find out who may or may not get re-signed by the Patriots; and who should be a part of the 2019 squad. Today, we’ll continue the series with wide receiver and kickoff returner Cordarrelle Patterson.

#84 Cordarrelle Patterson

2019 opening day age: 28

2018 playing time: 18 games (15 regular season + 3 postseason); 19.2% offensive snaps, 15.8% special teams snaps

2018 regular season statistics: 21 catches, 247 receiving yards, 3 receiving touchdowns; 42 carries, 228 rushing yards, 1 rushing touchdown; 23 kickoff returns, 663 kickoff return yards, 1 kickoff return touchdown

2018 postseason statistics: 4 catches, 32 receiving yards; 3 carries, 10 rushing yards; 5 kickoff returns, 141 kickoff return yards

2018 cap number: $3.25 million

In mid-March 2018, the Patriots sent a fifth-round pick to the Oakland Raiders to acquire Cordarrelle Patterson and a sixth-round selection — effectively a drop of 51 spots in the draft. And while the move has not the same cost-impact relationship as New England’s acquisition of cornerback Jason McCourty, Patterson still developed into a valuable role player in his first season with the club.

His most prominent role came as a kickoff returner: Patterson averaged 28.8 yards per runback in the regular season, the third best number in the NFL last year, and also scored a touchdown. The former first-round draft selection also found the end zone as a rotational fourth wide receiver and an emergency running back in 2018, showing that his skill set allows him to successfully wear multiple hats.

Why should he be re-signed? Patterson’s biggest asset is his versatility — from offensive gadget player to traditional wide receiver and running back to special teams contributor. This ability to offer depth at various positions is what makes the 27-year old unique as a player, but also what might have more value to the Patriots than other teams: New England has found niche for Patterson other teams might not be willing to try to carve out.

Why should he be let go? As always, money will become a deciding factor. the Patriots will likely not break the bank to retain Patterson’s services. Despite his production in the kicking game, after all, his offensive impact was still limited to that of a depth player — and New England will not go overboard to pay for those services. If the two sides can’t reach a common financial ground, it would not be a surprise to see Patterson leave Foxboro.

Projection: The Patriots re-sign Patterson on a two-year contract worth around $4.0 million annually to bolster both their offensive skill position group and keep their kick return game stable.