Howlett, who notched 49 tries from 62 games for the Blacks, believes Paterson's return to the country's capital is vital for Edinburgh's chances of success.
The former Gloucester player kicked five penalties to keep his side in touching distance of Howlett's Munster - but the Irish side held on for a 20-15 victory at Murrayfield.
Howlett said: "Out of all the Edinburgh players Chris Paterson impressed me the most.
"To have someone as reliable as him is vital for every club. He is a cool head and the sort of guy I would assume everybody in the Edinburgh dressing room respects.
"I can easily understand how he has become Scotland's record points scorer. He can change games and he nearly did that for Edinburgh against us."