Wow. The New England Patriots released Leigh Bodden. This moves comes as a bit of a surprise, as the secondary has been one of a few weak links on defense for the first six games of the season. It is evident that the Patriots can use all the help they can get back there, but Bill Belichick and Co. must feel otherwise.
It is fair to ask, what does this mean for the future of the secondary?
Well, with the emergence of Kyle Arrington, the Patriots must have felt confident that they could make it work in the defensive backfield without Bodden, the cornerback with the longest tenure in a Patriots uniform.
Speaking of which, the release now leaves just Arrington, Devin McCourty, Antwaun Molden, Ras-I Dowling and Phillip Adams at cornerback.
Bodden has been up and down this season, and was even beaten out by Dowling for the starting spot in Week 1 with Bodden getting a majority of his snaps at the star (slot cornerback) position. He was even inactive for the Week 4 game against the Raiders, and according to Ian Rapoport of The Boston Herald Bodden said the move was a "coach's decision."
Quarterbacks were 12-of-22 for 192 yards (8.7 yards per attempt) and a touchdown for a 99.1 passer rating when targeting Bodden, according to Pro Football Focus. He has played 222 snaps for the Patriots, primarily in nickel duty.
He has four passes defensed, and has yet to reel in an interception after nabbing five of them in 2009 and missing all of 2010 with an injury. Injuries continued to plague Bodden this season, and if he truly was underperforming, then it was certainly time to cut ties. The Patriots pass defense has been the league's worst overall this season so far, so perhaps a change is just what they need.
It will not take too long to find out, as the immediate future holds a matchup against the Pittsburgh Steelers and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who currently averages 8.3 yards per attempt and has a 95.3 passer rating on the season.
The move makes more sense through the prism of starting talent, versatility and money. Belichick didn't want to run the risk that Bodden's situation could become a distraction, with the highly-compensated cornerback sitting on the bench. It also allows the Patriots to pursue a more cost-effective move a nickel cornerback, possibly with a player who can also contribute on special teams.
Whatever the case, the secondary will be even more in focus from here on out than it was in the first six games of the season.