FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Some final thoughts on today's release of veteran cornerback Leigh Bodden:
This was obviously a big surprise. In trying to better understand the team's thinking, and the dynamics of the situation, the picture still doesn't come through crystal clear. But some 8-10 hours after the news broke, there were a few things that weren't touched on earlier worthy of exploring.
While performance might have been part of a consideration, it's hard to believe that was the sole factor. Bodden was playing as the third cornerback, and while his production wasn't at 2009 levels, it was certainly passable. He is a better cornerback than Phillip Adams, and while Adams offers a bit more special teams value, that hardly seems like a clincher to keep him over Bodden. Overall, this is a move that weakens the Patriots at the position, especially given rookie Ras-I Dowling's injury issues.
It's also hard to believe the move was made because Bodden was not embracing his role as the third corner. He was still playing a lot -- the Patriots had an extra defensive back on for 60 percent of their snaps -- and it's not like it was a different role in the sense that he still lined up outside. When Bodden came on to the field as the fifth defensive back after the season opener, the Patriots most often moved Kyle Arrington inside to the "star" position. Like any player, Bodden surely wanted to be on the field more, but I don't think that got in the way of him being a good teammate. He didn't seem to put his role above the team's success.
On Thursday, when Bodden popped into the locker room briefly during the media-access period, it was mentioned to him that he hasn't been seen as much by reporters this year. He pointed to the training room and said, "I've been in there."
I've been thinking about that brief exchange, wondering if it might be tied to what went down today. Bodden has been listed on the injury report with thumb, back, groin and hand injuries this year, and he missed the team's game at Oakland on Oct. 2. He also sat out the 2010 season with a torn rotator cuff.
The wear and tear has been adding up for the 30-year-old Bodden, even though his agent said Friday that he's "totally healthy." I attempted to reach out to the likeable Bodden today to ask him if some of the health issues were making it harder for him to be "all-in" -- which is what you have to be in the NFL, especially in the Patriots' demanding program -- but the connection couldn't be made.
Out of all the possible reasons the Patriots abruptly released Bodden, this is the one that seems most plausible from this perspective.
Why would a team release its third cornerback two days before a game?
It doesn't make sense unless, first and foremost, Bill Belichick didn't feel Bodden was "all-in."