4 free-agent returners the Carolina Panthers could sign in 2021

(Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports) Byron Pringle
(Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports) Byron Pringle /
4 of 4
Carolina Panthers
(Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports) Cordarrelle Patterson /

Cordarrelle Patterson

  • 2020 team – Chicago Bears

The first name that jumps out when one explores the free-agent kick returner market is Cordarrelle Patterson. A first-round pick of the Minnesota Vikings in 2013, he might not have lived up to his billing as a wide receiver but it’s hard not to look at his production on special teams and think he wouldn’t make a massive difference.

Patterson is electrifying in the return game and took over the mantle of Devin Hester on the Chicago Bears with aplomb. He is a four-time All-Pro and went over 1,000 yards returning kicks in 2020 for the third time in his career.

The former Tennessee star is a threat to score every time he touches the football. Teams often kick the ball out of bounds rather than let Patterson take his shot, which has given the Bears some prominent field position for their inconsistent quarterbacks to work with.

This would be one of the more expensive options on the list. But considering he can also be used as a receiver or in the running game on special packages, this is an option well worth considering from the Carolina Panthers’ perspective if Curtis Samuel gets an offer they can’t match.

Money is tight across the NFL, so much will depend on just what sort of contract Patterson is after. However, the Panthers should put in a call at the very least.