The Patriots have offered contract extensions to running back Brandon Bolden and strong safety Pat Chung, as broken down by Offensive Jazz Interference. They're two relatively cheap deals that'll keep the players around for a few more seasons.
It's awesome all around.
Bolden is a core 4 special teams player (plays on both kicking and return units), who also provided some value as Shane Vereen's back-up at running back (77 offensive snaps). While it might sound strange to keep a back like Bolden around on a two-year contract, keep in mind that head coach Bill Belichick loves special teamers. And if a player proves worthy of being a core 4 player, Belichick will keep him around.
It makes sense, too. The Patriots averaged 11 drives a game, so it stands to reason there will be roughly one kick off and one return per drive- that means that Bolden is a 20+ snap player week-in and week-out. His contribution is less James White, and more James Develin. That's worth keeping around.
Chung has emerged as a key defender, and a perfect complement to Devin McCourty at strong safety. He had the fifth most snaps by a Patriot defender this season, and he's clearly being utilized in a role that better fits his skill set. Remember in his first trip with the Patriots, he was forced to play deep safety as every single Patriots safety was hurt. He played poorly out of position and was released; now he's in a role where he can thrive.
Together, it means that the Patriots have cleared up two more free agents prior to the off-season. Here's the remaining list of off-season priorities (not including players like James Develin, or Sealver Siliga, who are exclusive rights free agents where the Patriots have full control).
1. CB Darrelle Revis - Needs to restructure, extend mid term
2. FS Devin McCourty - Needs to extend long term
3. K Stephen Gostkowski - Needs to extend mid term
4. LB Jerod Mayo - Needs to restructure, mid term
5. Depth players like LB Akeem Ayers, LB Jonathan Casillas, LB Chris White, DT Alan Branch RB Stevan Ridley, RB Shane Vereen - All possible mid term extensions
6. Current depth reastructures for players like WR Danny Amendola and OT Nate Solder- but Patscap's Miguel explains better than anyone.
7. OG Dan Connolly - Possible short term extension
8. LS Danny Aiken - Possible mid term extension