For years, the running back position has been an afterthought during the offseason for the Dallas Cowboys. With Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard forming one of the most dynamic backfields in the league, RB arguably has had the most clarity of any position group on the roster for the last three years.
With Elliott no longer in the picture following his release and OTA practices taking place this week, the discourse about whether the Cowboys need another back has ramped up.
They've been mentioned as a potential fit for Dalvin Cook, whom the Vikings are planning to trade (or release) after June 1. While Cook would give Dallas an elite backfield, it stands to reason he'll cost two late-round draft picks.
To say nothing of his potential salary demands.
At the right price, Cook would be a great get. With minimal cap flexibility, though, it's unlikely the Cowboys go big-name hunting again this offseason.
With that in mind, why is nobody talking about the Falcons' Cordarelle Patterson as a potential trade target?
This Cowboys-Falcons trade for Cordarrelle Patterson could work
The Falcons seemingly aren't shopping Patterson, but the four-time All-Pro might be viewed as expendable after the team drafted Bijan Robinson eighth overall last month to strengthen its already-prolific rushing attack.
As a rookie, Tyler Allgeier rushed for 1,039 yards on 4.9 yards per attempt. Patterson pitched in with 695 rushing yards and eight touchdowns on 4.8 YPA, while undrafted free agent Caleb Huntley logged 366 rushing yards at an impressive 4.8 clip.
Patterson admittedly offers versatility as a pass-catching back and part-time return specialist, but Allgeier and Robinson are clearly the future in Atlanta.
Losing Patterson would hurt, but the Falcons would have two potential RB1s and a developing RB3 in Huntley to fill the void. Further, they'd save $4.25 million against the cap this year and $1.25 million next year by trading the veteran after June 1.
Again, it's harder to pinpoint reasons why Atlanta shouldn't trade Patterson relative to why they should.
From the Cowboys perspective, what's not to like? Though 32 years old, it wasn't until two seasons ago that Patterson transitioned from a full-time return specialist to a hybrid running back, so he has little wear on his tires. At 6-foot-2 and 220 pounds, Patterson is a mauler both between the tackles and in the open field.
He doesn't have the breakaway speed he boasted in his prime, but he's still plenty fast to get to the edge and sprint away from defenders. In 2022, he logged a 83.5 rushing grade, via Pro Football Focus, and his 73 catches over the last two seasons is a testament to his receiving ability.
While Deuce Vaughn brings a lot of excitement as a sixth-round pick, there's real obscurity in the Cowboys' backfield behind Tony Pollard.
For one, Ronald Jones is an obvious cut candidate considering his limited guarantees. Though exciting, Deuce Vaughn is an unproven (and undersized) rookie, while Rico Dowdle hasn't been able to stay healthy, and Malik Davis enters year two on the roster bubble as a former undrafted free agent.
Acquiring Patterson, who'll cost an affordable $5.5 million in 2023 on the final year of his contract, would give the Cowboys an exciting short-term solution and allow them to reasess the position entirely next offseason.