When the New England Patriots released Brandon Bolden on cutdown day last summer, he re-signed the following day — a technicality needed to allow for other, unrelated roster moves.
Many expected the Patriots to follow the same pattern after they cut the veteran running back again Sunday, which made Tuesday’s development a surprising one.
Two days after his release, news broke that Bolden was signing with the rival Miami Dolphins, according to reports from ESPN’s Mike Reiss and others.
Bolden had been with the Patriots since they signed him as an undrafted rookie out of Ole Miss in 2012. The 28-year-old carried the ball 216 times for 912 yards and six touchdowns over his six seasons in New England but made his greatest impact in the kicking game, ranking among the top five Patriots in special teams snaps played in each of the last four seasons.
Bolden, who had re-signed with the team in February, also was a popular figure in the Patriots’ locker room.
“I love Brandon,” quarterback Tom Brady said last November. “… We’ve been together for a long time, and he’s just a great teammate. He brings great positive enthusiasm. He’s got a great spirit about him, so dependable, consistent. He has a lot of trust in his teammates. We have a lot of trust in him. He’s just a great player.”
Patriots coach Bill Belichick routinely praised Bolden for his versatility and selflessness.
“He’s really a valuable guy for us in a lot of different roles,” Belichick said after Bolden rushed for a touchdown in New England’s win over the Tennessee Titans in the 2017 divisional round. “Until you need him, it doesn’t seem like that much. Then when you need him, it’s a lot, and it’s hard to find players like that that can step up into those critical roles — pass protection, ball handling, tough yards on the goal line, things like that — without getting a lot of reps, without getting the multiple opportunities and just step in there and do it the way he does it.”
In Miami, Bolden will reunite with former Patriots wide receiver Danny Amendola, who signed a two-year, $12 million contract with the Dolphins this past spring.
The Patriots currently have four running backs on their 53-man roster: Rex Burkhead, James White, Sony Michel and Jeremy Hill, plus fullback James Develin. Burkhead and Michel both missed the preseason with reported knee injuries.