April 21, 2024

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The Steelers signed Cordarrelle Patterson after the NFL changed its kickoff rule

The Steelers signed Cordarrelle Patterson after the NFL changed its kickoff rule

NFL

In the wake of a massive change to the NFL's kickoff rule, the Steelers are turning to Cordarrelle Patterson for additional help next season.

The running back agreed to a two-year, $6 million deal with the Steelers shortly after NFL owners voted to overhaul the league's kickoff rule. ESPN's Adam Schefter reported.

Patterson is the NFL's all-time leader in punt returns with nine over the course of his career since he arrived in the league in 2013, and that number is three times more than any other player in that time period.

Cordarrelle Patterson, who signed with the Steelers, broke into the open field for the Falcons last season. USA TODAY Sports via Reuters Conn

The 33-year-old heads to the Steel City with some familiarity already with offensive coordinator Arthur Smith, who was Atlanta's head coach throughout Patterson's three seasons there.

Patterson was thrust into a reduced role with the Falcons, with whom he played from 2021 through last season, and now looks to bolster the struggling Steelers' rematch in 2024.

The Steelers haven't had a punt returned for a touchdown since the 2017 season against the Browns when JuJu Smith-Schuster went 96 yards for a score.

Kick returns will be in the spotlight this coming season after the NFL changed them in order to mimic the approach the XFL took when it relaunched in 2020.

The new rule will go into effect this season and fans will see 10 players on the kicking team lined up on the receiving team's 40-yard line and the receiving team will have a lineup of at least nine players on their own 35-yard line.

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Steelers coach Mike Tomlin
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin Nathan Ray Sibick-USA Today Sports

The kicker will kick the ball from their own 35-yard line and the kick must land somewhere between the 20-yard line and the goal line.

A rebound will be spotted at the 30-yard line and a kick less than 20 will be placed on the receiving team's 40-yard line.

“This will be brand new for everyone,” New Orleans Saints special teams coordinator Darren Rizzi told reporters in Orlando. Per ESPN. “But the important thing is that we feel like we made this play more relevant and, more importantly, safer.”

The rule change is expected to help reduce injuries and increase kick returns, which were at a historically low rate in 2023.

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