ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Tis’ the summer season when an undrafted rookie can feel like he’s a hopeless cause as he slides unnoticed through an NFL team’s 90-player meat market.
>Video above is a 9NEWS Klis and Tell about the Denver Broncos starting OTAs.
Hard to believe it was only been four years ago that Tim Patrick could relate.
The Broncos’ 6-foot-4, catch-everything-close receiver has accomplished so much the past three years that’s it’s easy to forget he was once neglected at the back of the receiver lines, about to get cut by the Ravens, then the 49ers, and later by the Broncos, all in the 2017 season.
More than Courtland Sutton and KJ Hamler, who were second-round picks, more than first-round draft choice Jerry Jeudy, Patrick can identify with the undrafted rookie likes of Devontres Dukes, Branden Mack, Damion Willis and Warren Jackson, who must have days during Broncos’ OTAs where they feel like little more than line fillers.
Has Patrick, undrafted out of Utah largely because of injury concerns, shared his story with the undrafteds?
“If they ask a question I’m all for telling them my story,’’ Patrick said during a Zoom press conference Wednesday with the Denver media. “I don’t really talk about it. Because that’s something that’s in the past. I got a second-round tender this year so I feel like a second-round pick now.’’
Indeed, after Patrick recorded 51 catches without a drop for 742 yards and a team-most 6 receiving touchdowns last year, he received a $3.384 million salary as a second-round tendered restricted free agent.
“The (college) free-agent guys, they reached out before they got here,’’ Patrick said. “I gave them some advice. I’m here for them. I understand what they’re going through right now. A day when they might be down because they might not get as many reps as they want.
“But it’s a marathon. Not everything is going to happen at once. You have to just keep fighting and show them you’re prepared to take that next step. I always tell them to just work hard. There might be a day where they don’t catch a ball but stand out some other way, like blocking. Run to the end zone every time even if you don’t get the ball. Small-detail things like that.”
Patrick 27, is unnoticed no more, especially not with his cream-colored dyed hair top he brought to the start of the Phase II offseason program two and a half weeks ago.
“Today it’s a little bit greenish, little bit bluish, little grayish,’’ he said while flashing his boyish grin. “The day before it was a little bit purple. It’s whatever the sun wants to give me this day, that’s what happens.”
Emboldened enough by his rising status to speak his mind, Patrick is by no means content. He was asked if he allows himself to think about the big money that comes with a long-term contract either through his own team, or the free-agent market that would be his at season’s end.
“I try not to,’’ Patrick said. “It’s hard not to, obviously. That’s every kid’s dream, every college (kid’s) dream is getting that long-term contract.
“But I’ve got to keep myself motivated. Now I’m at the point where I’m (ticked) off I didn’t get a first-round tender. I’m (ticked) off I didn’t get an extension. So now I’ve got to go back to the drawing board to get that.’’
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