JOSH DUBOW, AP Sports Writer
ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) — The Oakland Raiders signed All-Pro kickoff returner and speedy receiver Cordarrelle Patterson to a free-agent contract Monday.
Patterson is a former first-round pick by Minnesota in 2013, who has excelled as a returner but struggled for consistency as a receiver during his career.
He caught only 132 passes in four seasons with the Vikings, but has been a first-team All-Pro twice and a second-team pick once as a returner in his four-year career.
Patterson has averaged 30.4 yards per kickoff return in his career, second only to Hall of Famer Gale Sayers (30.6 yards) since 1941. He has five kick returns for touchdowns, including one at Oakland in 2015. The Raiders last returned a kick for a touchdown in 2011, when Jacoby Ford did it against Cleveland.
Patterson had a career-high 52 catches last season, but gained only 453 yards and caught two TDs. His 8.7 yards per catch were the fewest for any qualifying wide receiver last season. Despite his game-breaking speed, he has averaged just 10 yards per catch in his career and has not had a catch go for more than 40 yards since his rookie season.
In Oakland, he won’t need to be counted on heavily as a receiver with 1,000-yard wideouts Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree already on the roster.
Earlier in the day, the Raiders finalized a free-agent contract with former New York Giants offensive lineman Marshall Newhouse.
Newhouse joins the strength of the Raiders on the offensive line. Left tackle Donald Penn, left guard Kelechi Osemele and center Rodney Hudson are coming off Pro Bowl seasons and right guard Gabe Jackson has solidified his spot.
The Raiders lost Menelik Watson to Denver in free agency last week before making the move for Newhouse, who will be in the mix with part-time starter Austin Howard and second-year players Vadal Alexander and Denver Kirkland.
“Kind of a good mix of old and young guys; lots of talent,” Newhouse said. “Obviously, when you’re protecting a quarterback as good as Derek Carr, every lineman wants that opportunity. All those things lined up and was definitely a huge reason why I chose here.”
Playing tackle in the AFC West is not an easy task as the division features some of the game’s elite edge rushers.
Denver has Von Miller and Shane Ray, Kansas City features Justin Houston and Dee Ford, and San Diego has Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram.
“I definitely embrace it,” Newhouse said. “It’s not something you shy from, because they’re there and they’re paid to get sacks. They make impact plays and you see it from afar. … All of those division games are going to be tough, tight games with a lot of elite pass rushers coming off of the edge. It’s just going to be an onus for me to step up my game.”
Newhouse has started 56 games in six seasons with Green Bay, Cincinnati and the Giants. He entered the league as a fifth-round pick by the Packers in 2010 when current Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie was in the front office in Green Bay.
Newhouse said he has improved his conditioning and play since McKenzie last had him on his roster.
“He knows what I bring to the table, but he also knows that I’ve grown as a player since then,” he said. “I was only 21 when I was there and I’m a few years older now. So, I think it’s a mutually beneficial situation for both of us.”
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