The Raiders have big plans for Cordarrelle Patterson

The Oakland Raiders signed an All Pro kick returner who also adds value on kick coverage as a gunner. That’s the headline that most envision with the signing of Cordarrelle Patterson. But if you’re the Raiders, the headline you envision is closer to: “The Oakland Raiders sign All Pro kick returner and versatile offensive weapon.”

That’s because the Raiders see Patterson as more than just a kick returner who adds depth at wide receiver. They see him as a kick returner who will be involved on offense as another weapon for quarterback Derek Carr.

How do we know that’s how the Raiders view Patterson? There are a few signs, the first of which being his contract. Patterson gets $5 million guaranteed and has the potential to be paid up to $7 million with incentives. And what’s more, if he plays well enough to earn the $2 million extra in incentives, he can void the contract and hit free agency again.

That’s a pretty player friendly contract for Reggie McKenzie, who’s known for writing very team friendly contracts.

For those who don’t pay close attention to how the Raiders have been run under McKenzie, it would be easy to jump to the conclusion that the Raiders massively overpaid a kick returner. For those who do watch closely, they know that the Raiders must see more than a kick returner in Patterson.

Another sign that’s true? Derek Carr was involved in the pitch to bring Patterson in. You don’t bring a quarterback to meet with a wide receiver unless it’s so he can sell said receiver on his role in the offense. Carr was at that meeting to show Patterson that he will be happy playing with the Raiders offense.

And then there’s the fact that the Raiders had a rather unreliable third option at wide receiver in Seth Roberts. While Patterson isn’t a great receiver, he was much more efficient than Roberts, catching 52 of 70 targets while Roberts caught 38 of 77 targets. That means Patterson caught 14 more passes on seven fewer targets.

And then there’s what Patterson has told the media since signing with the Silver and Black:

We sat down and talked. They were just saying how they can work on getting me a better receiver. Things I’m good at, they’re going to keep continuing to do that. Those things I need to work on, they’re going to help me improve on that.

That’s why Derek Carr was present to talk with Patterson. Not only did the Raiders pitch Patterson a role in the offense, they pitched a future to him. They have told Patterson that not only are they going to try and help him improve as a wide receiver but that if they are successful at making him better, they’re going to let him test free agency despite putting in work to help develop him.

It would be easy to look at this contract as a bet on Patterson’s potential but it’s also a bet on the Raiders coaching staff and team as a whole.

It’s a bet that Todd Downing will be able to find ways of getting the ball into Patterson’s hands so he can use his athleticism to gain yards.

It’s a bet on wide receivers coach Rob Moore that he will be able to develop Patterson as a wide receiver better than the Vikings were able to.

It’s a bet on veteran leadership like Michael Crabtree to step up and help mentor Patterson the way he has Amari Cooper.

It’s a bet that Derek Carr will be able to keep all of his talented pass catchers happy by continuing to spread the ball around.

And it’s a bet on Reggie McKenzie that if the Raiders are successful at developing Patterson that McKenzie will be able to ink a longer term deal before they lose someone they developed in free agency.

Sure, $5 million guaranteed for a guy who’s primary role will be as a special teams player, but if the Raiders are able to live up to their own expectations, it could end up being a pretty decent price for the possible return. It will take a lot of work by a lot of people within the organization to get the most out of Patterson but if they are successful, it will be a big win for everyone involved.

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