As the Super Bowl approaches, fans of the NFL's other 30 teams are looking ahead to the off-season and free agency—and so is the Vikings' explosive wide receiver
MAGGIE GRAY: When's the last time you spoke to [Vikings QB] Teddy Bridgewater?
CORDARRELLE PATTERSON:[Laughs.] I actually just received a text from Teddy. You know he was just at rehab [for his left knee]. He's ready to juke somebody. That's the kind of guy he is. Since Teddy went down, I feel like we became closer as a family.
MG: Gut feeling, do you think he's going to be ready for next season?
CP: The work he's putting in, I pray that he's ready. But if he's not, you know, we've got another great quarterback in Sam Bradford.
MG: I wonder if Bradford's going to be in Minnesota next year. A lot of that depends on Teddy, right?
CP: I would have both those guys. You don't want to just have it like, 'Yeah this is my job. Nobody can beat me out.' I want to see those two guys compete.
MG: One person who's synonymous with the Vikings is Adrian Peterson, who was also injured this year. If you had to bet a week's pay, would you say he's in a Vikings' uniform next year?
CP: I want him there, especially if I'm there. I've seen the kind of guy he is and all the hard work he's put in. He'll always talk to you, make jokes. Just don't ever shake his hand.
MG: Why was this season so successful for you?
CP: All the hard work I put in this off-season and all the great teammates I have that push me. I have to thank them for the season I had. I don't think it was a great season though. It was an O.K. season.
MG: Can you fully enjoy success individually when the team struggles?
CP: Sometimes you can, but I would trade anything.... I would take my two Pro Bowls, I'd give all that back to play in the Super Bowl.
MG: You guys get out to a 5--0 start this season, and then things start to unravel. What went wrong?
CP: A lot. Going into the bye week, I'm thinking, we're getting in the playoffs. Who wouldn't think that once you're 5--0? We came out of that bye week, and I feel like nobody was ready. We thought we were ready, but mentally and physically we weren't.
MG: Big off-season for you: unrestricted free agency. What's going to go into your decision?
CP: Family's first. As long as my family is happy, I'm happy. I'm a happy person, always smiling. You'll never see a frown on my face, and if you do, I want you to punch me in the face and say, 'Put a smile on your face.' You want a team that wants you. You don't ever want to feel not wanted.
MG: Are the Vikings making you feel wanted?
CP: Uhh ... I would say yes. But those two years [when I was struggling for playing time], I didn't feel like I was wanted. I'm not going to lie. I wanted to get out. This year I felt like I was wanted. I want to be here. This is the team that drafted me. I know everybody here. My family loves it here, so why go somewhere else?
For more of Patterson's interview, plus the SI Now archive, go toSI.com/video
"You'll never see a frown on my face, and if you do, I want you to punch me and say, 'Put a smile on your face.'"
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