We are currently in process of doing brief reviews of all of the free agents on the Cleveland Browns. In this post, we take a look at the guy who made our secondary solid last year.
How and When He Joined the Browns: After spending two seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles (and other teams prior to that), Patterson became a free agent. The Browns signed him after the lockout right near the start of training camp, but with Joe Haden, Sheldon Brown, Coye Francies, and Buster Skrine all on the roster, it seemed as though Patterson might be camp fodder.
Productivity Level Last Season: Patterson was far from camp fodder, and it didn't take long to realize that. His ties to Dick Jauron from Philadelphia made him confident that he would be a utility man at cornerback. Patterson only notched 25 tackles on the season and did not have an interception, but he defended 12 passes and played the nickelback position beautifully all year long. He seemed a bit conservative during the week he filled in as a starter, but he far exceeded everyone's expectations overall. Patterson also added three tackles on special teams, a unit he did not play on all the time. He missed two games with an ankle injury but rebounded fine from it.
Why Keeping Him Could Make Sense: The Browns definitely have one long-term starter at cornerback in Joe Haden, but how many more years can they keep asking for "one more year" out of Sheldon Brown? Patterson isn't exactly a young player (he will be entering his eighth NFL season), but his comfortability in the system could make him the next "N-year starter" opposite Haden, while allowing a youngster like Buster Skrine to play at nickelback. Ultimately, it would be great just to retain Patterson for his skills at nickelback though, since that is where he seems to play best.
What the Browns Should Do: With Brown getting older, the Browns need to establish a guy like Patterson as their new "veteran" of the secondary. He shouldn't be too expensive to re-sign and played at a very high level in 2011. If that doesn't make him a no-brainer for the Browns to retain him, then I don't know what the front office is looking for.
Now it's your turn -- vote in the poll below on whether or not the team should try to re-sign Dimitri Patterson!