Brandon Bolden’s decision to sign with the Las Vegas Raiders was shaped by family.
That could be seen as the former New England Patriots running back arrived at his introductory press conference in a black and silver No. 85 jersey, the same digits that his grandfather, Frank Pitts, wore during the 1974 season. But it could also be seen on the staff entering the 2022 season.
New Raiders head coach Josh McDaniels had been Bolden’s offensive coordinator for 90 percent of his NFL career.
“I love Josh,” Bolden told reporters Thursday from the Intermountain Healthcare Performance Center. “Me and Josh, we’ve bumped heads a few times, but it’s family. We bump heads and then we shake hands and get it back over with and we’re back for the same common goal. Love Josh, love him as a football coach and just off the field. He’s one of the more personable coaches I’ve had the pleasure of being coached by. I love just going into his office and you can talk about anything from the weather to something you saw on CNN an hour ago.”
Bolden signed with New England as an undrafted free agent in the spring of 2012. His rookie year coincided with McDaniels’ return from stints with the Denver Broncos and then-St. Louis Rams. A total of 132 games and two Super Bowl rings were logged from there for the versatile Ole Miss product.
Last regular season, so were career highs on the offensive side of the ball.
Bolden had a hand in 226 rushing yards, 405 receiving yards and three touchdowns after opting out of the previous campaign due to Covid-19 concerns. In the absence of injured Patriots captain James White, he accounted for 44 carries and 41 catches while remaining on special teams for 278 snaps in a contract year.
The new league year began Wednesday at 4 p.m. ET. News of the 32-year-old’s next destination followed.
“This is not my first go-round with free agency,” said Bolden, who spent 2018 with the Miami Dolphins. “I was just sitting at home just weighing out the options. And when I did finally talk to Josh, it was kind of one of those situations where what would be the best situation for me and my family going forward? And this was a very easy choice schematically and on a personal level, as well.
“This is a very familiar face — familiar faces. There’s a lot of coaches on this staff that I’ve had the pleasure of being coached by in the past, and a few of them more recently. So this has been a hell of a ride. And, yeah, when Josh pretty much made his phone call, it kind of summed it up for where I was going.”
Bolden finds himself going with McDaniels, general manager David Ziegler and a list of recent Patriots assistants that includes offensive coordinator Mick Lombardi, offensive line coach Carmen Bricillo and quarterbacks coach Bo Hardegree.
He also finds himself with an opportunity to take third downs in a Raiders backfield featuring Josh Jacobs, Kenyan Drake and lead blocker Jakob Johnson.
“If you go through Josh’s history, I was there with Shane Vereen, Danny Woodhead,” added Bolden. “I was there when James White came in. I’ve learned from a lot of players over my time. It was just one of those situations where Josh already knew what I could do as a player. He’s seen me do it before, and it was just a matter of going out and doing it. I appreciate him giving me all of those opportunities and a chance to finally go out there and show what I can do. Because without him, I wouldn’t be as far as I was on offense especially. I appreciate him for everything he’s done for me.”