Eagles should place more value in Patterson than Smith-Schuster

Cordarrelle Patterson (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)
Cordarrelle Patterson (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images) /

Raise your hand if you’ve imagined a half-dozen or more of these available free agents in Philadelphia Eagles jerseys. Keep those hands up if one of those guys, at one point or another, has been JuJu Smith-Schuster. Yep! That’s what we thought.

We get it! The Birds still have that hole on the other side of the offensive formation from DeVonta Smith. JJ Arcega-Whiteside and Jalen Reagor can’t play… period. Quez Watkins has some ability. He’s approaching, albeit slowly, fan-favorite status, but let’s be honest here. He was a sixth-round draft choice for a reason.

So again, we get it. JuJu makes sense, especially seeing as how the best wide receiver options that we expected (or hoped) would be available in free agency all were taken off of the table before the legal tampering period even arrived.

Philadelphia never got a shot at Davante Adams, Chris Godwin, or Mike Williams. They did land an EDGE star, Haason Reddick, and that’s massive, but now the name at the top of most Eagles fans’ wish list is Bobby Wagner. If that isn’t doable (or even if it is) everyone will begin talking about wide receivers, cornerbacks, or safeties.

Is JuJu Philly’s best option? We don’t think he is, and the reason for that is the fact that two more talented players are available. One name belongs to someone that everyone’s familiar with, and another belongs to someone that we haven’t discussed much (but probably should).

Cordarrelle Patterson should be higher on the Eagles wish list than JuJu Smith-Schuster.

With many of the biggest fish in free agency’s pool of conversation staying with their current teams, the best wide receiver available now, at the time of this story being written and published, is Allen Robinson II. No one should be surprised if he’s picked up and paid more than some may have thought he’d earn.

He’s arguably the last of that top tier at the wide receiver position, so with that being said, the Eagles, if they look to add talent there, may be forced to look at the second rung of available talents. That’s when we get into guys like JuJu Smith-Schuster and, dare we say, Cordarrelle Patterson.

Now, we know what you’re thinking. Is Patterson a wide receiver, or is he a running back? Often, we’ve asked that, and we’ve ventured into criticism.

For nine seasons, Patterson’s been seen as that guy that’s good at most things, but he isn’t excellent at anything, other than being a returner. Let’s raise those hands again though. How many of you forgot that Patterson is a four-time Pro Bowler (2013, 2016, 2019, 2020). Yep, that’s what we thought.

Nine seasons in the NFL have landed Patterson on the First-Team All-Pro list four times (2013, 2016, 2019, 2020). He’s been a Second-Team All-Pro three times (2015, 2018, 2019). The tale of Smith-Schuster’s career has been he’s a great Robin to someone else’s Batman. He’s great if a better wideout is on the field to relieve some of the pressure on him, but he isn’t the first option per se.

Recently, Pro Football Focus ranked the top 100 remaining free agents. Patterson landed at 18. Smith-Schuster cracked the list at 23. Here’s what was said about Patterson:

"Cordarrelle Patterson is a unique player. Not quite a running back and not quite a wide receiver, he can be a problem for defenses in either spot and is good enough at both to move seamlessly between them and exploit mismatches in personnel that causes. He fits somewhere a team is willing to craft that role for him."

Here’s the skinny on JuJu:

"Smith-Schuster looked to be one of the NFL’s best young receivers early in his career as a secondary option on an offense that featured Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell. Brown’s departure highlighted that JuJu isn’t a viable No. 1 option in the passing game, but this version of the Steelers offense also hasn’t done him any favors. He can provide quality play as a big slot with sure hands on a talented offense like Tennessee’s."

We’ve said all that to say this. Whether or not Smith-Schuster and Patterson fit with what the Eagles want to do is hard to determine. How they’d fit is doubly so, but if the Eagles look at adding one over the other (and, that’s if they’re interested in either one of them), Patterson provides more value.

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In Cordarrelle, you get a better wideout than everyone not named DeVonta or Quez. You get a more durable running back than Jordan Howard. Special teams gets a kick returner. You know what they say. The more you can do the better. Maybe we should stop punishing Patterson for his versatility.

In 2021, he was, at times, the Atlanta Falcons’ lone weapon on offense. From where we’re sitting, if Philly got over 600 yards rushing over 500 yards receiving and 11 touchdowns on offense from the NFL’s equivalent to the Swiss-Army knife, no one would be complaining about where he’s slotted on the depth chart.