Reported Patriots Target Slade Bolden Is Huge Bill O’Brien Fan

'Coach O'Brien is one of my favorite coaches'


Feb 28, 2023

The New England Patriots reportedly are working out a receiver with strong ties to both Mac Jones and Bill O’Brien.

Alabama product Slade Bolden, who reportedly has a workout with New England scheduled for this week, both roomed with Jones when both were Crimson Tide players and played under new Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien.

And Bolden didn’t just overlap with O’Brien, who was Alabama’s OC for the last two seasons. He evidently was a big fan of the 53-year-old coach, raving about him during a recent podcast appearance.

“Coach O’Brien is one of my favorite coaches,” Bolden said earlier this month on the “Bama Standard” podcast, as transcribed by Pats Pulpit. ‘I think O’Brien is gifted when it comes to calling plays. He is a lot better and a lot more gifted than some people believe he is. I have seen him come up with some stuff that — it’s not necessarily that it didn’t work, it’s we didn’t execute it right.

“I love him as a person, and I feel like we got really close. I liked him as a person just as much as I liked him as an offensive coordinator.”

Bolden was viewed as an obvious Patriots target during the leadup to last year’s draft, but he wound up going undrafted after a poor showing at the NFL Scouting Combine and signed with the Ravens as a UDFA. He suffered an injury during training camp — a hernia, per ESPN’s Mike Reiss — and was released from Baltimore’s injured reserve in October.

Though Bolden has yet to appear in an NFL game, O’Brien clearly still is intrigued by the 5-foot-11, 189-pound slot receiver. Playing in a deep Bama receiving corps, the 24-year-old caught 66 passes for 678 yards and four touchdowns over his final two collegiate seasons, including one with Jones as his quarterback. He also played on special teams and garnered praise from head coach Nick Saban.

“He’s a very consistent, dependable player in so many ways,” Saban said in December 2021. “He’s an outstanding special teams player. He does a really good job for us in the passing game. He plays with toughness. He’s a really good competitor.”

The Patriots’ top slot receiver for the past three seasons, Jakobi Meyers, is set to hit free agency on March 15. O’Brien could view Bodlen as a possible developmental option in that role.

Thumbnail photo via Jason Getz/USA TODAY Sports Images
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