[UPDATE]: It turns out that the Jags did not release kicker Riley Patterson, instead they swung a trade with the Lions.
The #Jaguars aren't releasing kicker Riley Patterson after all: They traded him to the #Lions. Patterson kicked in seven games for Detroit in 2021.— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) May 25, 2023
The Cowboys do technically have a kicker on their roster already in Tristan Vizcaino, though his 12 career field goal attempts across three seasons in the NFL suggest he’s not the answer in Dallas. Jerry Jones has already hinted that the team will likely sign a veteran at some point to compete with Vizcaino, while John Fassel has confirmed that literally every breathing soul on planet Earth is under consideration.
Well, add another name to the official list, in the form of now-former Jaguars kicker Riley Patterson.
To make room for new kicker Brandon McManus, the Jaguars released kicker Riley Patterson.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) May 25, 2023
Patterson became a casualty in the fallout of Jacksonville signing Brandon McManus, who was recently cut by the Broncos and momentarily became a target of many Cowboys fans, alongside the usual suspects of Robbie Gould and Mason Crosby.
Patterson has actually been in the NFL for one less year than Vizcaino, but he’s attempted more than four times the amount of field goals, and done fairly well for himself. Undrafted out of Memphis in 2021, Patterson signed with the Vikings. Minnesota wanted Patterson to challenge free agent signee Greg Joseph, but an injury during the preseason led to Patterson’s release.
Once healthy, Patterson was signed to the Patriots practice squad. Later in the year, the Lions poached him after their starting kicker was lost for the year to injury. Patterson made every one of his extra points and made 13 of his 14 field goals, with the lone miss coming from well beyond 50 yards. He even won NFC Special Teams Player of the Week during the Lions’ upset win over the Cardinals late in the year.
Ultimately, Patterson was cut in the preseason this past year in favor of the Lions’ original kicker. The Jaguars claimed Patterson off waivers, and he became their new starting kicker. He hit 30 of his 35 field goal attempts and his only missed PAT came on a blocked kick.
Patterson was a reliable kicker for the Jaguars in what proved to be a big year for them. He won AFC Special Teams Player of the Week honors during the season, and his 36-yard field goal as time expired sealed the deal for the Jaguars in what became the third biggest comeback in playoff history.
Now, Patterson is looking for his third team in as many years. Unlike the Cowboys’ last two kickers - Greg Zuerlein and Brett Maher - Patterson doesn’t have a tremendous leg; four of his five misses this past season came from beyond the 40-yard line. That’s also resulted in a very poor touchback rate on kickoffs, though a new rule change might make that irrelevant going forward.
While Patterson doesn’t have the strongest leg, he’s proven to be reliable and consistent, especially in high-leverage situations like game-tying or game-winning attempts. He has a high conversion rate on extra points, something that was an issue at one point or another for both Zuerlein and Maher.
Patterson also just didn’t have many opportunities to try longer field goals, as he’s played for two of the most aggressive fourth-down decision-makers in the NFL in both Dan Campbell and Doug Pederson. Mike McCarthy has been fairly aggressive on fourth down as well, but Patterson would likely see an increased chance to try his luck from deep.
Patterson may not be edging out Gould or Crosby as the most appealing kicker option out there, but he’s certainly a known commodity. And for the Cowboys, who will need to figure out the position battle participants soon, it’s a good thing to have a plethora of options.