Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson seems to understand what's at stake.
The 29th overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft didn't have his fifth year option picked up by the Vikings during the offseason, meaning he is set to become a free agent after this season.
While he's continued to excel as a kick returner, it's going to take more than return skills for the former Tennessee standout to draw much attention on the free agent market – and Patterson seems to understand that.
He admitted in an interview with the Pioneer Press that he hasn't worked as hard as he needed to.
"Sometimes you can be here and you feel like you've got to be on the team," Patterson told the newspaper. "You feel like, 'Yeah, I'm a first-round pick, I'm on the team.' Things like that, sometimes they make you not work hard, they make you don't want to do things, make you be lazy."
Patterson showed his athleticism and talent as a rookie catching 45 passes for 469 yards as a rookie in 2013. But things changed quickly after Mike Zimmer arrived in 2014 and by the middle of the season Patterson had lost his starting job to Charles Johnson.
Things got worse last season, Patterson finished with just two catches for 10 yards, while playing on only 64 offensive snaps. After the NFL Draft in April saw the Vikings use another first round pick on a receiver, the pressure is now on Patterson to earn a role in the offense.
But Patterson's improvement and work ethic have drawn early praise from Zimmer so far.
Between now and training camp Patterson plans to work out in Florida with quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. He also could return to San Francisco to continue working with Frank Matrisciano, also known as "Hell's Trainer."
But Pro Football Talk notes that it won't be an easy road to the top of the Vikings depth chart. With Stefon Diggs, first round pick Laquon Treadwell, Jarius Wright, Johnson and Adam Thielen all ahead of him it could be a struggle for Patterson to even make the team.
But he's maintaining a positive attitude.
Vikings coaches and fans will be looking forward to seeing if Patterson can return to the promise he showed as a rookie.