The return of Tim Patrick: A consistent force for the Denver Broncos

Kansas City Chiefs v Denver Broncos
Kansas City Chiefs v Denver Broncos / Dustin Bradford/GettyImages

One of the most important pieces joining the Denver Broncos this season wasn’t acquired via free agency, trade, or even the draft. It’s the return of wide receiver Tim Patrick, who missed all of last season with a torn ACL. Patrick may not be the flashiest player, but there is a reason he was signed to a three-year, $30 million contract back in November of 2021.

Patrick doesn’t have the route-running ability of Jerry Jeudy, the speed of KJ Hamler, or the spectacular catch potential of Courtland Sutton. So what makes him so valuable to the Denver Broncos? It’s his ability to be consistent while doing most things a receiver should do at a serviceable level. In 2020, Patrick had 742 receiving yards, which was the second-highest on the team. He also scored six touchdowns, the most on the team. However, he was only third in terms of targets. In 2021, Patrick had 734 receiving yards, which again placed him second on the team. He scored five touchdowns, which was the most on the team. Once again, he ranked third in targets.

The production from Patrick, who was consistently a third option, was deeply missed in 2022. Greg Dulcich ended up being third in targets in 2022, where he had 411 receiving yards and two touchdowns. That is not to take away from Dulcic, who, for a rookie tight end, had a good year for an offense that struggled the way it did. It simply highlights the drop-off between third options the Broncos saw without Patrick being able to play.

It can easily be yet another reason why Russell Wilson struggled in 2022. Wilson was not blessed with the stability that Patrick brings to a receiving core. Adding him to a revamped offense under Sean Payton that includes an improved Jerry Jeudy along with more weapons only means good things for the Broncos and Russell Wilson.  

Of course, there is concern. An ACL tear is an extremely difficult injury to come back from, especially as Patrick is now 29 years old. However, as previously mentioned, more weapons, more experienced players, and a brand-new offense can likely take pressure off of everyone, including Tim Patrick, who will need to ease back into NFL games.

Patrick may not have the highest ceiling, but his floor has arguably been the highest of all receivers since 2020. Assuming he can return near the same player he was prior to tearing his ACL, the Broncos will be gaining one of the league's best third options.

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