Brandon Bolden

Dolphins Sign RB Brandon Bolden

The Dolphins are signing longtime New England Patriots running back Brandon Bolden, according to Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald (Twitter link).

To make room on the roster for Bolden, the team cut center Travis Swanson, who was just signed yesterday. Bolden will get to continue his career in the AFC East, as he spent his first six seasons in New England before being released at final cuts on Saturday.

The Ole Miss product improbably made the Patriots as an undrafted free agent back in 2012, and stuck up until now, a remarkable feat for an undrafted player. He became a core special teams player during his time in New England, as well as handling a significant amount of carries his first few seasons.

In total, he rushed 216 times for 912 yards, good for 4.2 yards per carry, with six touchdowns with the Patriots. He also caught 47 passes for 373 yards and two more touchdowns. He’ll join a Dolphins running backs room that includes Kenyan Drake, Frank Gore, and rookie Kalen Ballage.

Patriots Make Roster Cuts

The Patriots are the latest team to move to 53 players by making the following transactions:

Placed on injured reserve:

Cut:

New England kept only three true wide receivers on its initial roster, meaning the club will almost surely be searching for more options on the waiver wire.

Patriots, RB Brandon Bolden Agree To Extension

The Patriots are bringing back one of their special teams aces for another season. ESPN’s Field Yates reports (via Twitter) that the team has signed running back Brandon Bolden to a one-year, $880K deal. The contract has $170K in guaranteed money, including a $60K signing bonus and $110K of the $790K salary (via the Boston Globe’s Ben Volin). His cap number will be at $720K.

Brandon Bolden (vertical)The 2012 undrafted free agent out of Mississippi has spent his entire six-year career in New England, appearing in at least 10 games each season. Recently, Bolden’s contributed mostly on special teams, as ESPN’s Mike Reiss notes (via Twitter) that the running back only played 42 offensive snaps this past season (including 34 in the regular season finale). The 28-year-old ultimately finished the campaign with a career-high eight tackles to along with 67 rushing yards. His best offensive season came during his sophomore campaign, when he rushed for 271 yards and three scores on 55 carries while also hauling in 21 receptions for 152 yards.

While the Patriots have locked up Bolden, Volin points out that the team still has a handful of “key special teamers” who are hitting free agency. The grouping includes Pro Bowler Matt Slater, Nate Ebner, Brandon King, Marquis Flowers and Johnson Bademosi.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Patriots To Place LB Shea McClellin On IR

The Patriots are placing linebacker Shea McClellin on injured reserve, according to ESPN.com’s Field Yates. The nature of his injury is currently unknown. Shea McClellin (vertical)

McClellin missed most of the preseason with his mystery ailment. Whatever the issue is, it won’t rule him out for the year as he remains a candidate for one of the team’s IR-DTR spots.

McClellin, a former first-round pick of the Bears, signed a three-year, $9MM deal with the Patriots in 2016. He appeared in 441 snaps for New England last year and made some athletic plays, including his memorable leap over the line of scrimmage to block a field goal against the Ravens in December.

To fill his spot on the roster, the Patriots re-signed running back Brandon Bolden. He had just just one carry last season and spent the bulk of his time on special teams.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Patriots To Cut RB Brandon Bolden

When the Patriots finally release their initial 53-man roster, Brandon Bolden won’t be on it. The running back has been released, according to Field Yates of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Brandon Bolden (vertical)

Bolden re-signed with the Patriots in April, but his spot was shaky from the get-go. The Patriots added Rex Burkhead and Mike Gillislee to the fold this year, giving him an uphill climb as he battled with a group including fellow incumbents James White and Dion Lewis.

Bolden had just one carry last season with four targets. He was more of a special teams guy in New England and it seems possible that he could return at some point.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Notes: Texans, Patriots, Jets

After Texans running back D’Onta Foreman‘s arrest on charges of marijuana and unlawful gun possession last Sunday, his attorney, Chip Lewis, claimed that the rookie didn’t “use or possess” the drug. To help clear himself of wrongdoing, Foreman was voluntarily tested for marijuana, and the results came back negative, according to Lewis (via Mark Berman of FOX 26). “It makes it clear that he was telling the truth,” Lewis said of the outcome. “He was not using marijuana.” Foreman has a July 31 court date, though there’s reportedly a strong likelihood of a postponement because the Texans will be at training camp in West Virginia then.

  • Patriots running back Dion Lewis may have to fight for a roster spot this summer, Mike Giardi of CSNNE.com points out, but colleague Tom Curran says it would be a mistake for the team to cut him if he’s healthy (video link). Fellow back Brandon Bolden should be in greater jeopardy, as he offers little offensively, opines Curran. Lewis has provided solid production as both a runner and pass catcher when on the field during his two-year New England stint, having averaged 4.6 yards per carry on 113 attempts and totaled 53 receptions, but he hasn’t appeared much. A torn ACL in 2015 and the subsequent recovery process kept Lewis out of action for nine games in each of the previous two regular seasons. Releasing Lewis would save the Pats all but $200K of his $1.49MM cap hit, and they’d still have a capable group of backs with Mike Gillislee, James White and Rex Burkhead leading the way.
  • Having moved on from a cavalcade of veterans in recent months, it may look as though the Jets are tanking, but it’s just a full-scale rebuild, contends Ralph Vacchiano of SNY. Tanking is “almost impossible” to pull off in the NFL, argues Vacchiano, who writes that a top 10 to 15 selection in next year’s draft may be the best-case scenario for the club. Picking that late could mean the Jets found an answer at quarterback in Christian Hackenberg, a second-rounder in 2016 who didn’t take the field as a rookie, and saw a slew of other young players emerge as legitimate building blocks. It’s more likely, though, that they’ll end up with a top five pick, potentially putting them in position to find a franchise QB, observes Vacchiano.
  • More on the Jets, whose deal with first-round pick Jamal Adams contains offsets, according to Albert Breer of The MMQB (on Twitter).

Zach Links contributed to this post.

East Notes: Dolphins, Giants, Redskins, Pats

The Dolphins have until May 2 to pick up the 2018 fifth-year option on right tackle Ja’Wuan James, and the decision is not clear-cut, as James Walker of ESPN.com writes. James, 24, has started 39 games since being selected with the 19th overall pick in 2014, and he was solid last season, grading as the league’s No. 32 tackle, per Pro Football Focus. However, because the fifth-year option salary is based on both left and right tackle contracts, it’s expected to be worth approximately $8MM, a figure that would make James the third-highest-paid right tackle in the league on an annual basis. The deal would only be for a single season, however, and is guaranteed for injury only until the first day of the 2018 league year.

Here’s more from the NFL’s two East divisions:

  • Defensive end Owa Odighizuwa is still a member of the Giants, as franchise owner John Mara told reporters, including Ralph Vacchiano of SNY (Twitter link). Mara added he “doesn’t think” Odighizuwa will follow through on his apparent retirement plans. The 25-year-old defender has posted a cryptic series of tweets in recent days, first indicating that he’d step away from the NFL, then saying he’s “grateful to be part of Big Blue.” Fellow Giants players aren’t sure exactly what’s going on with Odighizuwa, although some observers believe he’s dealing with “personal” problems.
  • Although free agent signing Stacy McGee may fit better as a nose tackle given that he’s doesn’t rush the passer well, the Redskins intend to use him as a defensive end in their 3-4 scheme, according to Master Tesfatsion of the Washington Post. Either way, Washington could still use another lineman or two, even after inking McGee and Terrell McClain last month. Johnathan Hankins is still available on the open market, as are fellow free agents Jared Odrick and Vance Walker. Draft options for the Redskins could include Malik McDowell (Michigan State), Chris Wormley (Michigan), and Caleb Brantley (Florida).
  • Brandon Bolden‘s new deal with the Patriots is worth $855K and comes with a $50K signing bonus, tweets Ben Volin of the Boston Globe. The pact also includes a $30K workout bonus. As Volin notes, this contract certainly doesn’t mean Bolden is a lock to earn a spot on the New England roster, especially given the club’s crowded backfield. At present, the Pats boast Dion Lewis, James White, Rex Burkhead, D.J. Foster, and are also in contact with free agents Adrian Peterson and LeGarrette Blount. If Bolden does make New England’s squad, it will be on the basis of his special teams work.
  • Safety T.J. McDonald‘s one-year contract with the Dolphins has a value of $1.344MM, per Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (Twitter link). The deal will include a base salary of roughly $945K, $213K in per-game roster bonuses, and a $200K workout bonus. Of course, McDonald will only earn half of those totals, as he’s suspended for the first eight games of the season .

Patriots Re-Sign RB Brandon Bolden

The Patriots re-signed running back Brandon Bolden, according to the league’s transactions wire. The signing could impact a pair of high-profile free agent backs previously connected to the team. Brandon Bolden (vertical)

LeGarrette Blount remains in free agent limbo and Bolden’s return could be a sign that Blount’s time in New England is through. The Pats now have five running backs under contract – Rex Burkhead, Dion Lewis, James WhiteD.J. Foster, and Bolden – so there might not be room for Blount. Bolden isn’t a high-profile player like Adrian Peterson, but the Pats might not be especially motivated to add to this already crowded RB group.

Bolden had just one carry last season with four targets. He probably won’t do much on offense in 2017, but he figures to be a key special teams piece.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Patriots Still Interested In Blount, Bolden

Although they’ve signed Rex Burkhead and taken a meeting with Adrian Peterson, the Patriots still have interest in re-signing LeGarrette Blount and Brandon Bolden, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com and Mike Reiss of ESPN.com.LeGarrette Blount (vertical)

Blount, 30, hasn’t seen his market develop during the first month of free agency, as the only team that’s expressed any interest in him is the Seahawks, who were reportedly “monitoring” Blount before signing Eddie Lacy. As Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk speculated earlier this week, it’s entirely possible New England’s hosting of Peterson was intended to send a message to Blount. Blount, who led the league with 18 rushing touchdowns in 2016, has negotiated with the Patriots since the free agent period opened, but the two sides couldn’t agree to terms.

Bolden, meanwhile, didn’t play much of an offensive role last season (one carry, four targets), and would likely see that burden reduced even further given the arrival of Burkhead in New England. Bolden’s primary role would remain in special teams, where he played nearly 60% of the Patriots snaps in 2016.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Top 2017 Free Agents By Position 3.0: Offense

The initial wave of NFL free agency is now complete, and while many of the league’s top available players are now off the board, there are still plenty of quality options still on the open market.

Listed below are our rankings for the top 15 free agents at each offensive position. These rankings aren’t necessarily determined by the value of the contracts – or the amount of guaranteed money – that each player is expected to land in free agency. These are simply the players we like the most at each position, with both short- and long-term value taken into account.

Restricted and exclusive-rights free agents, as well as players who received the franchise tag, aren’t listed here, since the roadblocks in place to hinder another team from actually acquiring most of those players prevent them from being true free agents.

We’ll almost certainly be higher or lower on some free agents than you are, so feel free to weigh in below in our comments section to let us know which players we’ve got wrong.

Here’s our breakdown of the current top 15 free agents by offensive position for 2017:

Quarterback:

  1. Jay Cutler
  2. Chase Daniel
  3. Ryan Fitzpatrick
  4. Colin Kaepernick
  5. Josh McCown
  6. Robert Griffin III
  7. Case Keenum
  8. Matt McGloin
  9. Mark Sanchez
  10. Christian Ponder
  11. Blaine Gabbert
  12. Ryan Nassib
  13. Shaun Hill
  14. Kellen Moore
  15. Austin Davis

Tony Romo is not a free agent…at least not yet. If the Cowboys do not find a suitable trade and release him, you’ll find him at the top of this list.

Laugh if you must, but Cutler is far and away the best quarterback available on the open market. While most of this year’s QB-needy teams are done with their free agent shopping, the Jets are still searching for their 2017 starter and no one would make more sense for them than Cutler. He’s not all that far removed from playing solid football and he’s a logical transitional option for the Jets until they can isolate a better, younger option for 2018. Jay Cutler (Vertical)

Kaepernick’s reps wisely told the press that he will be standing for the National Anthem this year. Still, Kaepernick is an outspoken guy who wants to use his platform to discuss hot button issues, so there’s no guarantee that the media circus around him will cease. Jets owner Woody Johnson loves seeing his team on the back pages of the New York tabloids, but even he has to have more sense than to entertain Kaepernick. McCown, who has been contact with the team, would be an okay choice if they can’t get something done with Cutler. Chase Daniel could be an option too, but there isn’t much game film on him.

Needless to say, the No. 3 ranked player on this list isn’t an option in New York.

Running back:

  1. Adrian Peterson
  2. LeGarrette Blount
  3. Jamaal Charles
  4. Rashad Jennings
  5. Tim Hightower
  6. DeAngelo Williams
  7. Chris Johnson
  8. Christine Michael
  9. Benny Cunningham
  10. Bobby Rainey
  11. Brandon Bolden
  12. Denard Robinson
  13. James Starks
  14. Matt Asiata
  15. Kenjon Barner

Honorable mention: DuJuan Harris, Antonio AndrewsKhiry Robinson

Adrian Peterson (vertical)The Vikings have moved on and Peterson will not be back in Minnesota. Where he goes from here is anyone’s guess. When Peterson’s option was declined by the Vikings earlier this month, there were tons of stories (likely sourced by Peterson’s camp) about interest from a litany of contenders. Since then, each team – through anonymous sources – has denied being in the mix for the veteran. It would be easy to doubt Peterson at this juncture, but he has come back from serious injuries multiple times in his career and he is only one year removed from his stellar 2015 campaign. He gets the top spot over the bruising Blount as well as Charles, who hasn’t been healthy in a long while.

Jennings was brought to New York with the idea that he would be the team’s workhorse. Unfortunately, two of his three seasons with the G-Men were marred by injury. Jennings is currently putting his agility to good use on Dancing With The Stars and it remains to be seen how committed he is to football. After that, we have a trio of vets (Hightower, Williams, CJ2K) who could still advance the ball in limited spurts.

In case you’re wondering – Mike Gillislee is not listed here because he is a restricted free agent.

Read more