One Steelers' addition that could pay dividends due to rule changes

The NFL changed the kickoff rules for this upcoming season, and that could make one of their moves this offseason a huge one.
Pittsburgh Steelers OTA Offseason Workout
Pittsburgh Steelers OTA Offseason Workout / Joe Sargent/GettyImages

This offseason the NFL and NFLPA approved a rule change in regards to kickoffs. The league changed the rules a few years back to limit injuries. However, in recent years, kicks that didn't result in touchbacks were at an all-time high.

As a result, the league instituted a change for this year in hopes of creating much more excitement on kickoffs and incentivizing players to take the ball out on returns far more often.

Essentially, the new kickoff rule prevents anyone on the field from moving until the ball is caught or hits the ground, except for the kicker and returner(s) in hopes of creating more space to roam for the returner and increase the chances for a big play on a return.

The increased likelihood of a return as well as the decreased risk of not making it back to the spot of the touchback should do wonders in increasing the number of kicks that are returned.

Additionally, the league chose to do it this way because this was the safest way they could come up with to increase returns. Not only does it create more room for returners, but it should also be safer. High-speed collisions are what makes kickoff returns so dangerous, and this should reduce the amount of those, with gunners unable to hit peak speeds as quickly to hit the returners.

1 addition that will help the Pittsburgh Steelers on kick returns

While this will have a big effect on the entire league, the Steelers are one of many teams who seemed to adjust their plans accordingly. While the signing of Cordarelle Patterson seemed to many as just a depth signing and a way to bring in a player familiar with Arthur Smith's offense, it's clear that this is much more than a lottery tickey move.

While his prime years are behind him, Patterson is one of the greatest kickoff returners in NFL history. In fact, Patterson has the most kickoff return touchdowns in NFL history, with 9, so he will be a huge beneficiary of the new rules.

With the benefits of having two returners back deep due to the change, he may often be joined by Calvin Austin or others back deep. Either way, Patterson will surely be back there nearly every time and should serve as a dangerous weapon for the Steelers in the return game.

However, despite his value in the return game, this is not the only area in which he will present value to the Steelers. He proved to be a valuable piece in the backfield for Atlanta under Smith, and like it or not, he won't be completely cast aside in the offense.

While many would like to see Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren be the ones who know every snap back there, as has been shown in the past, Smith likes to get multiple players involved. Due to Smith having success with Patterson in the past, he will also get some touches on offense.

While it may not have seemed like a super impactful signing at the time, Patterson to the Steelers could become much more relevant than people think it will be.