Sure, he already was a prolific kick returner, as evidenced by his five career returns for a touchdown, when he signed as a free agent with the Raiders in 2017 after four years with the Minnesota Vikings. But Patterson ended up being a game-breaking threat for Oakland last season as he was one of just 12 receivers who caught at least 30 passes to average at least 5.9 yards after the catch. He also added two rushing touchdowns.
Consider: In dealing Patterson, the Raiders saved $3.25 million in salary-cap space and $3 million in base salary for 2018, plus potentially as much as $250,000 in roster bonuses and $1.7 million in incentives tied to receptions, play time and making the Pro Bowl.
According to the NFL Network, the deal included the Raiders sending not only Patterson to the Patriots, but one of their six sixth-round picks (only two of which are tradable, Nos. 185 and 192 overall, as the other four are compensatory picks) in exchange for the Patriots’ fifth-round pick (No. 159 overall).
Keep in mind, the Raiders did not have a fifth-rounder before this trade but do now, and still have 11 draft picks, plus the $3.25 million in cap space.
So while the Raiders have been balanced thus far in free agency -- five of their announced 12 signings have been on offense, five on defense and two on special teams -- they still have needs to address, especially on defense at middle linebacker (NaVorro Bowman remains unsigned) and a pass-rushing defensive tackle (the draft?).
Freeing up some of that cap space could allow Oakland to make more moves. Yes, even with Marshawn Lynch getting his $1 million roster bonus on Sunday.
And if you thought the Raiders should have traded slot receiver Seth Roberts instead, well, there had to be a market for him. Besides, Roberts’ base salary of $2.25 million became guaranteed on Friday, as did his roster bonus of $2 million.