Patriots Free Agency: Why Brandon Bolden Should Return For Seventh Season

Next up in our New England Patriots free agent profile series: running back Brandon Bolden.

Running back Brandon Bolden might be entering the stretch run of his career with the New England Patriots, but it shouldn’t be over just yet.

The Patriots released Bolden out of training camp last summer but re-signed him to the 53-man roster before Week 1. It was the first hint Bolden’s time with the Patriots might soon be coming to a close.

Bolden, who’s been with the team since signing as an undrafted free agent in 2012, is a free agent again this offseason. He’s coming off a year in which he continued to impress on special teams and found an increased — albeit still extremely limited — role on offense. Bolden is a team leader on offense, is well-liked in the locker room, has a key and extensive role on special teams and provides depth at running back, where he can play as an early-down grinder or a pass-catcher on third down.

Here’s how he performed in 2017:

2017 stats: 13 carries, 67 yards; one catch, 7 yards; eight tackles

Highlight of the season: His rushing touchdown in the divisional round of the playoffs.

Chances of coming back: High. Unless he’s scooped up by Matt Patricia and the Detroit Lions, then he should at least be back for training camp with the Patriots this summer.

Running back depth: James White, Mike Gillislee.

Contingency plan: The Patriots clearly need to address the running back position this offseason. Bolden, Dion Lewis and Rex Burkhead are free agents. The Patriots need to re-sign at least one of Lewis and Burkhead, and even then they should probably sign a veteran running back or use a draft pick at the position.

Ideally, the Patriots would bring back White, Gillislee, Lewis, Burkhead and Bolden for another season. That seems cost prohibitive, however, so the more likely scenario is White, Gillislee, Burkhead and Bolden return. Then the Patriots would bring in a couple players to compete with Gillislee for an offensive role. Bolden can continue to serve as deep depth and in a special-teams role.

Thumbnail photo via David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports Images

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