Late February through August is quickly taking on a Groundhog Day effect in Minnesota.
Each and every year, it seems like coaches and executives are asked the same question: Can we do more for Cordarrelle Patterson?
"I leave that up to the coaches, that's their decision," general manager Rick Spielman told the Star-Tribune. "I don't think there's any question about Cordarrelle as an athlete and what he does with the ball in his hands, but those are decisions that the coaching staff has to make. They get paid to put the best guys out there on the field that gives us the best opportunity to win, and I trust them 100 percent when they make those decisions on what we need to win on game days."
A brief search turns up similarly hazy headlines. The Vikings have been speaking in generalities about the wildly athletic Patterson since his rookie year in 2013. He needs to be more than just a decoy. He needs to round out his game. Maybe he's grown up a lot. Maybe he hasn't grown up enough. Whatever the scenario, Spielman sees 2016 as an important year in his development.
"I think this will be a telltale year, I would say," Spielman said.
The bottom line is that in 48 games, he has started 14 of them, including just one in 2015. This past year, he caught two passes for 10 yards and spent the majority of his time on the field as the Vikings' primary kick returner. He racked up 1,019 return yards this season and scored twice.
While that is great, and Patterson is most certainly a special teams threat to be reckoned with, that aspect of the game is being slowly phased out. The Vikings will play indoors for half their games in 2016, and how many of those kickoffs will land in bounds?
This year, he only costs the Vikings $1,009,687 plus a handful of roster and workout bonuses, which is not awful for a special teams ace. But until he is something more, Spielman, head coach Mike Zimmer and offensive coordinator Norv Turner will know no end to these questions.