The New England Patriots came up just short of their ultimate goal in 2017 as the team lost Super Bowl LII against the Philadelphia Eagles. In order to get back onto the top of the NFL mountain, the team – on and off the field personnel – will have to quickly turn the page to get into a position to field the best possible team in 2018; one that will be able to once again compete for the world championship.
A big part of creating such a team is mastering the upcoming free agency. And if judged by the list of free agents to be, New England's front office will be busy over the next few weeks. Also over the next few weeks, we will take a look at those free agents to find out who might or might not get re-signed; and who should be a part of the 2018 Patriots. Today, we'll continue with running back Brandon Bolden.
#38 RB Brandon Bolden
2018 opening day age: 28
2017 playing time: 19 games (16 regular season + 3 playoffs); 3.6% offensive snaps, 60.6% special teams snaps
2017 statistics: 17 carries, 94 yards, 1 touchdown; 1 reception, 7 yards; 8 special teams tackles
2017 cap number: $615,000
One year ago, Bolden found himself in the same situation he finds himself in now: about to enter free agency. He was ultimately re-signed in April, released in early September and brought back two days later and ultimately appeared in every one of New England's games in 2017. As usual, the veteran saw minimal playing time on offense and was mostly only used as an emergency option or during blowout victories.
As has been the case throughout his entire six-year career in New England, Bolden's primary usage came in the kicking game. Overall, he played roughly two-thirds of special teams snaps as a gunner and frontline blocker on kickoffs as well as a rusher and protector on the punt team. In the defensive role, the 28-year old finished the season with eight tackles.
Despite his limited offensive impact, Bolden played a prominent role on the Patriots – one that will likely lead the team to offer him a contract similar to the one he signed last offseason. After all, retaining Bolden would secure stability in the kicking game with fellow core members Johnson Bademosi, Nate Ebner and Matthew Slater all up for new contracts as well.
Projection: Bolden re-signs with the Patriots on a one-year contract worth a total of around $775,000 to $900,000.