The Chicago Bears signed WR/KR Cordarrelle Patterson in 2019's free agency period to a two-year, $10 million deal, and while he did provide a jolt in the return game, he failed to make much of an impact on offense. In fact, he totaled just 11 catches for 83 yards. He had more runs than catches in his first season with the Bears, totaling 17 carries for 103 yards.
28 total offensive touches. That's it. And that's why it was surprising on Thursday when wide receivers coach Mike Furrey talked about Patterson as if he was one of the Bears' best offensive weapons for the upcoming season.
"[No matter] how we do it or how it happens, the guy has to have the ball in his hands," Furrey said. "He’s one of the most elite, explosive, dominant football players with the ball in his hands in this league."
Did the coaching staff just figure this out during the offseason? Patterson is the same guy now that he was last year, but if we take Furrey at his word, there could be something brewing with the Bears' plans for him in 2020.
Remember: Ryan Pace didn't do anything this offseason to build depth behind David Montgomery and Tarik Cohen at running back, and with how the Bears used Patterson in 2019, it's quite possible they have higher expectations for him out of the backfield then lined up as a wide receiver.
Look back at how Bill Belichick used Patterson in 2018 when the "receiver" carried the ball 42 times for 228 yards and one touchdown for the Patriots. He only caught 21 passes for New England that season.
It's important to pay attention when position coaches offer breadcrumbs like this. It's obvious, based on Furrey's comments, that Chicago has a bigger plan for Patterson in 2020. Whether it's at wide receiver or running back, No. 84 is going to get a lot more touches than he had last season.