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Cordarrelle Patterson, Former Falcons Here to Teach Arthur Smith’s Offense

Cordarrelle Patterson and three other former Atlanta Falcons players signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers to help teach the new offense.



Pittsburgh Steelers RB Cordarrelle Patterson
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson during minicamp on June 12, 2024. -- Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

When four-time first-team All-Pro returner Cordarrelle Patterson heard from Steelers offensive coordinator Arthur Smith about joining the team, Patterson said it was a no-brainer. Patterson played under Smith for the last three seasons as a member of the Atlanta Falcons and he credited that relationship and the one he has with Mike Tomlin with why he decided to sign with the Steelers.

“Honestly, the coaches,” Patterson told reporters. “Coach Arthur and Mike [Tomlin.] He came to my Pro-Day when I was coming out of college. We have had a connection for a very long time. This was my first time that I got the opportunity to play for him so it was basically a no-brainer.”

Under Smith’s leadership, Patterson rejuvenated his career and set career highs on the ground in 2021 and 2022. Now that he followed Smith to Pittsburgh, Patterson is in a familiar situation and he feels right at home.

“It’s something I know,” Patterson said about Smith’s offense. “I’ve been in it for three years going on four years now. So, when Arthur talked to me this offseason about joining, it was a no-brainer for me.”

Now, Patterson is likely to be the team’s kick returner and third-running back. As the team’s third-running back, he may not receive touches and if he does, it will be a small dose. That is something that he fine with as he acknowledged his role and just wants to help the team in any way this season.

“I’m not coming in here to step on anybody’s toes,” Patterson said. “I know my role. I know what I can bring to this team so whatever they need me to do, I am that guy. If they don’t need me until Week 8, I am here. I am here to help these guys get going.”

Patterson joined three other former Falcons in their trek to Pittsburgh. Patterson, tight end MyCole Pruitt, wide receivers Scotty Miller and Van Jefferson all played under Smith in Atlanta. While none are expected to start, they bring the knowledge of Smith’s offense with them and are eager to help out the younger players.

“A lot of the guys we did sign who have been with Arthur are kind of older so we are just trying to bring those younger guys under our wings,” Patterson said. “Whatever they need, we are there to help those guys. We not coming in here to replace nobody, take nobody’s spot. We all know our roles.”

While he is listed as a running back, Patterson was drafted as a wide receiver in 2013 and can be a plug-and-play guy at the position if the Steelers needed. While he did not disclose if he would play any receiver in 2024, Patterson stated that he is comfortable to do it if needed.

“Very comfortable,” Patterson said. “Like I said, I have been in this offense for three years going on four years now so Arthur knows me. He knows me from up and down, he knows what I can and can’t do so he is going to take advantage of that this year.”

With Patterson’s biggest strength being his return abilities, he is likely to be the team’s starting returner. Under the new rules, that phase of the game will be new for every team but Patterson is hopeful that his preparation helps him have a head start come the first game of the season.

“We got to take advantage of it this season,” Patterson said. “It’s going to be new for everybody this season so we just got to figure it out and get a head start on everybody… It’s going to different, very different but we have been planning it for a while so hopefully we can get a jump start on it.”

While he is 33-years-old, Patterson showed he still has energy in his legs. The Steelers signed him to a two-year contract so if Patterson excels in his role, expect him back next season to do the same thing.

84 • Cordarrelle Patterson, Running Back, Tennessee
6-foot-2, 220 pounds, 33 years old, 12th Season

Acquired: The Steelers signed Patterson to a two-year deal with the Steelers on March 26, 2024. He follows his ex-head coach Arthur Smith to the Steel City.

Last YearIn 2023, Cordarrelle Patterson played under Smith’s leadership in Atlanta. Playing primarily as a running back, Patterson had his worst receiving year since 2019 as he caught just nine passes for 38 yards but he did manage to score his lone touchdown of the season through the air. In 14 games last season, Patterson rushed the ball 50 times for 181 yards but failed to score a touchdown on the ground.

Patterson returned seven kickoff last year and five of them went for 20 or more yards.

Steelers Falcons Cordarrelle Patterson

Atlanta Falcons running back Cordarrelle Patterson (84) rushes the ball in the second half of an NFL football game against the Washington Commanders, Sunday, Nov. 27, 2022, in Landover, Md. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Career: The Minnesota Vikings drafted Cordarrelle Patterson with the 29th overall pick of the 2013 NFL Draft. Within his first season, Patterson showed his elite traits as he tied the NFL’s record for longest touchdown when he returned a kickoff 109 yards for a score. Patterson earned Pro Bowl and All-Pro honors following the season. Patterson filled in for ex-Steeler Antonio Brown at the Pro Bowl.

The next two seasons were a disappointment for Patterson as he lost his starting receiver role and could not win it back. In 2016, Patterson returned to All-Pro form as a returner and earned his second All-Pro nomination as a returner.

Once a free agent, Patterson signed with the Raiders but never found his footing and was traded to New England after just one season. The Patriots were the first team to really feature Patterson in a true running back role as he attempted 42 rushes in 2018 and averaged over five yards per carry.

Following his one season as a Patriot, Patterson signed a two-year deal with the Bears. His first season was an utter disappointment on offense but he did earn his third All Pro nomination and a kick returner.

His second season as a Bear, Patterson was featured a lot more as he totaled 85 offensive touches as he recorded 64 rushing attempts and 21 receptions.

Prior to the 2021 season, Patterson signed with the Falcons and it rejuvenated his career. In 16 games, Patterson recorded 153 carries for 618 yards and six touchdowns. He also hauled in 52 passes for 548 yards and five scores. All of these were career highs at the time.

Following his breakout, the Falcons re-signed him to a two-year deal. The 2022 season was just a productive for Patterson, at least on the ground. He finished with 144 carries, 695 yards and eight touchdowns. He topped his career highs in rushing yards and rushing touchdowns after just one season.

Over his first 11 seasons, Patterson has appeared in 170 regular season games. He has tallied 514 rushing attempts for 2,511 yards and 22 touchdowns. Through the air, Patterson has hauled in 298 passes for 2,795 yards and 16 touchdowns.

Year Team GP Carries Yards AVG Rush TDs Receptions Rec. Yards Rec. TDs
2013 MIN 16 12 158 13.2 3 45 469 4
2014 MIN 16 10 117 11.7 1 33 384 1
2015 MIN 16 2 15 7.5 0 2 10 0
2016 MIN 16 7 43 6.1 0 52 453 2
2017 LV 16 13 121 9.3 2 31 309 0
2018 NE 15 42 228 5.4 1 21 247 3
2019 CHI 16 17 103 6.1 0 11 83 0
2020 CHI 16 64 232 3.6 1 21 132 0
2021 ATL 16 153 618 4.0 6 52 548 5
2022 ATL 13 144 695 4.8 8 21 122 0
2023 ATL 14 50 181 3.6 0 9 38 1


Year School GP Carries Rush Yards Rush TDs Receptions Rec. Yards Rec. TDs
2010 Hutchinson C.C. 11 7 19 0 52 908 9
2011 Hutchinson C.C. 12 32 379 6 61 924 15
2012 Tennessee 12 25 308 3 46 778 5

Salary cap and future: Cordarrelle Patterson agreed to a two-year, $6 million contract with the Steelers in March. His cap hit in 2024 is set at $2.25 million with a $950,000 signing bonus.

Patterson will become an unrestricted free agent following the 2025 season unless the Steelers decide to part ways with him after this season which would save them roughly $2.8 million in cap space for 2025.

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