Patterson, a four-time Pro Bowler, is considered one of the most dynamic kick returners in the game, leading the NFL in kick return yardage the past two seasons. He has scored on kick returns in each of the past three seasons and has eight in his career.
He has averaged 29.8 yards per kick return in his career, second-most all time behind Hall of Famer Gale Sayers, who averaged 30.6 yards from 1965 to '71. He's one of three qualifying players in NFL history -- and the only one who has played in the last four decades, to average more than 29 yards per kick return in his career.
A first-round pick out of Tennessee in the 2013 draft by Minnesota, Patterson was initially a wide receiver but in recent years has transitioned into a player who can play receiver or running back along with his kick return duties.
Between Minnesota, Chicago, New England and Oakland, he has played in 127 games, catching 216 passes for 2,087 yards and 10 touchdowns while rushing 167 times for 1,017 yards and eight touchdowns.
Patterson will be familiar to new Falcons special teams coordinator Marquice Williams, who faced Patterson the past two seasons when Williams was an assistant in Detroit and Patterson was the returner in Chicago. In Williams' time in Detroit, he also worked with another high-level returner, Jamal Agnew, and now he gets to have one of the best in league history in Patterson.
The Falcons have also signed safety Duron Harmon.
Harmon was with the Lions last season, where he started all 16 games for the first time in his career and had 73 tackles with five passes defended and two interceptions. Harmon spent the prior seven seasons in New England, where the 30-year-old started 29 games and had 17 interceptions.
Atlanta also released running back Ito Smith, who had 689 rushing yards and 314 receiving yards in his three seasons with the Falcons. He was a fourth-round pick out of Southern Mississippi in 2018. By releasing him, the Falcons save $920,000 in cap space and have a dead money hit of $155,218.