Steelers appease Arthur Smith by signing veteran RB Cordarrelle Patterson

The Steelers just made the most Arthur Smith signing ever. Here's what Cordarrelle Patterson brings to the table.

New Orleans Saints v Atlanta Falcons
New Orleans Saints v Atlanta Falcons / Kevin C. Cox/GettyImages

The Pittsburgh Steelers added another offensive skill player in free agency. After signing wide receivers Van Jefferson and Quez Watkins, Omar Khan inked a deal with veteran running back, Cordarrelle Patterson.

According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, Patterson has agreed to a two-year contract with the Pittsburgh Steelers and has officially reunited with his former head coach, Arthur Smith.

This is an interesting move by Pittsburgh. In 2023, no running back outside of Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren carried the ball for the Steelers (tight end Connor Heyward earned one carry on the season).

Patterson, a former wide receiver and first-round pick in 2013, began his NFL career as a receiver and return specialist with the Minnesota Vikings. After four seasons, Patterson bounced around to Oakland, New England, and Chicago before spending the last three seasons with Arthur Smith in Atlanta.

What are the Steelers getting in Cordarrelle Patterson?

Most of Patterson's career on offense has been spent as a gadget, as teams tried to figure out how to best utilize his skill set. In 2021, Smith made him a running back for the Falcons, and in 2022, Patterson was one of the most efficient RBs in the NFL -- carrying the ball 144 times for 695 yards (4.8 yards per carry) and 8 touchdowns).

In 2023 at the age of 32, Patterson's efficiency dropped (as did his workload). The seasoned veteran saw just 50 carries and 9 receptions in 14 games. Patterson's work as a kick return specialist has diminished as well. The former three-time First-Team All-Pro special teamer returned just 16 kicks over the past two seasons, per Pro Football Reference.

However, Patterson still managed to find a role on special teams in his old age -- earning 211 special teams snaps during his time with Smith in Atlanta.

It's hard to say exactly what Patterson's role will be in Pittsburgh, but he should serve as an experienced running back depth and could prove to be the Steelers' kick returner in 2024.

At 33 years old, Patterson is running on borrowed time, but unlike other aging NFL running backs, Patterson only has 514 career carries under his belt. Perhaps his late transition to running back means there's still plenty of tread left on the tires. This is an interesting signing for the Pittsburgh Steelers that offers depth at running back and on special teams.