The Falcons have several impending free agents that will cost them considerable cap space to bring back — Younghoe Koo, Foye Oluokun, and Cordarrelle Patterson. None of those three will command top-of-market money for their respective positions, but when you consider Terry Fontenot’s past free-agent signings, each potential signing will be the most the first-time general manager has spent during his tenure in Atlanta.
The biggest splash Fontenot has made came in the form of a two-year, $5 million contract that brought Mike Davis back to his home state. It also might be a contract the Falcons move on from this offseason in an effort to save cap space. Each of Koo, Oluokun, and Patterson will garner more than Davis’ deal.
After signing a one-year, $3 million deal last offseason, Patterson overperformed and completely broke out in his ninth season. He led the team in rushing (618 yards) and total touchdowns (11) while racking up the third-most receiving yards (548). The Falcons’ investment in Patteson can only be seen as a resounding success for the front office, coaching staff, and Patterson himself.
He’s made it abundantly clear through multiple mediums that he’d like to retire with the Falcons, but the NFL is a business, and I do not expect Fontenot to overpay for Patterson’s services. Over The Cap has Patterson valued at $8.8 million, which will undoubtedly price him out of Atlanta. Because of his age and major role in the Falcons offense, it is almost a guarantee that he regresses in 2022.
A deal in the $7-8 million range will effectively eliminate Atlanta from the Patterson sweepstakes, and rightfully so. The salary-cap constraints will make it difficult to field a team with high-priced free agents. Much like last offseason, Fontenot will focus on a majority of team-friendly, short-term contracts .
If cap dollars are so precious, spending them on an aging running back isn’t a wise use of that money. Making him one of the 15-highest paid running backs while the offensive line and defense need bolstering would be a gross misuse of cap dollars.
Even though the signing was a resounding success initially, bringing Patterson back on a more lucrative deal doesn’t make sense at all. Fontenot should try to find a similar opportunity for a player with a better chance of outplaying his contract figure. Patterson’s year will be memorable for many reasons, but unless he takes less money to stay in Atlanta, I wouldn’t sign the former All-Pro return man.