Cory Paterson
NFL an option

Unwanted Newcastle Knights forward Cory Paterson is again contemplating a switch to America’s NFL.

The Sun-Herald can reveal Paterson met a representative of Australian-based American football scouts Ozpunt at a Bar Beach cafe in Newcastle on Friday.

The Newcastle forward is under contract until next season but has been told he isn’t a part of incoming coach Wayne Bennett’s plans, and has been given permission to explore his options.

One of them is a potential boxing career, believed to be one of the reasons he appointed Khoder Nasser – the man guiding Anthony Mundine – as his new manager. However, because Nasser is not an NRL-accredited agent, he will not be able to broker a rugby league deal with rival clubs.

Not for the first time, American football has become a realistic option. Three years ago, Paterson went on a two-week US tour with Ozpunt, which included stops at Dallas, Phoenix, San Francisco, Los Angeles and a trial with the Oakland Raiders. He ruled out an immediate switch to the NFL at the time but the latest developments at Newcastle have again piqued his interest.

”I still believe he can be a great success in the NFL, and we’re more than happy to get to that if he wants to,” Ozpunt’s Paul Shepherd said.

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”He’d walk it in as a kicker, doing kick-offs, etc. He’s got terrific size, power and speed, and with 12 months of training, he could work into a defensive role on the field.”

Kickers are guaranteed a minimum wage of $350,000 a year upon signing but that would balloon to seven figures the following season if they made the grade. On-field roles start around $5 million.

”He’s got what it takes,” Shepherd said. ”It’s about taking the risk and making it pay off. There is a good year’s work involved but he could make it no problem at all.”

Paterson, a Newcastle junior, is heartbroken at being forced out of his home town. The former Australian Schoolboys star, who has made all of his 77 NRL appearances for the club, is believed to be on a contract worth close to $300,000 a season. The Knights, who have just signed Blues prop Kade Snowden and are in the market for Darius Boyd, are trying to free up space under the salary cap.