Cordarrelle Patterson could replace Dion Lewis as Patriots' top kickoff returner

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When running back Dion Lewis signed a free-agent deal with the Tennessee Titans last week, the New England Patriots didn't just lose the No. 1 running back on their depth chart. They also lost their top kickoff returner, which might best explain the team's interest in acquiring Cordarrelle Patterson in a trade with the Oakland Raiders.


Patterson is one of the fastest players in the NFL, nfl wholesale jerseys a prolific returner who never has consistently emerged as a top-flight receiver despite entering the NFL as a first-round draft choice. In 2014, New England coach Bill Belichick said of Patterson: "Obviously an explosive guy. You see that in the return game. He’s a deep threat. He’s dangerous with the ball in his hands, whether you hand it to him or throw it to him on a short pass. He’s a dangerous catch-and-run guy; he’s also a vertical guy. He’s a strong player -- big, strong, hard to tackle, good speed."

The trade could be a case of the Patriots placing a greater value on kickoff returns than the Raiders, who basically dumped Patterson in exchange for a modest move up the draft board in the late rounds. The Raiders also are implementing a new offensive scheme under coach Jon Gruden, so perhaps it also was a case of Patterson's price tag ($3 million base salary) not being a fit for how Oakland envisioned him in its offense.

The Patriots sometimes have targeted players in those types of situations, with the recent acquisition of defensive tackle Danny Shelton falling into that category. Shelton was drafted as a nose tackle in Cleveland's 3-4 scheme in 2015, but with the Browns switching to a 4-3,nfl jerseys from china  his value to them wasn't as high and the Patriots struck the deal.

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