Patterson isn’t a great receiver but the Seahawks wouldn’t need him to be. At some point, however, every NFL team needs to put their offense in a position to get points and a great kick returner does that. Patterson is one of the best kick returners in the history of the NFL.
Is paying Patterson $5 million or more a mistake in 2021? Yes. But this is how much he made in 2020. He likely won’t get that much from any other team in the NFL as Patterson is not an overly productive receiver. For someone with all his speed and elusiveness and size, he has still managed to only average 9.7 yards per reception in his 8 seasons.
But Patterson gets paid what he does because he does one thing better than anyone else. Return kicks. He is a four-time All-Pro as a kick returner, including the last two seasons. He has 8 TDs in his career returning kicks and has averaged 29.8 yards a return. This ranks second all-time behind only the great Gale Sayers. The next closest active player is Ameer Abdullah who averages 26.4 yards a return.
Patterson has the ability to change the outcomes of games simply by doing one great thing. How many other players can say that? Very few. This is why Seattle adding Patterson this offseason would be spacial.