The news was first reported by ProFootballTalk on Twitter: "Patriots release cornerback Leigh Bodden, according to a league source."
Bodden had been the team's No. 2 cornerback behind Devin McCourty, a position he held only because of the hip injury sustained by promising rookie Ras-I Dowling. Dowling, who recently missed another practice, is probably close to returning if the Pats' front office was comfortable with dropping his injury replacement.
While the move is certainly a shock, releasing Bodden isn't as crazy as it sounds.
He was having a pretty ineffective season up to this point, and with Dowling's imminent return, Kyle Arrington's emergence and Bodden's gigantic salary, letting him go might not be such a bad idea.
According to Mike Reiss at ESPNBoston.com, who tracks defensive backs' targets and catches allowed, Bodden has let up 12 catches on 22 targets for 192 yards, with one touchdown, no interceptions and an unsightly 99.1 QB rating against.
Bodden returned this season with high hopes after spending all of 2010 on injured reserve with a torn rotator cuff. He tore his rotator cuff just after receiving a four-year, $22 million contract from the Patriots. He earned that contract by leading the team with five interceptions in 2009, including a magnificent three-interception game against Mark Sanchez and the New York Jets.
This year, however, Bodden has looked a step slow.
Like his running mate McCourty, Bodden seems to have regressed since the last time he stepped on the field.
Against the Buffalo Bills in Week 3, Bodden was constantly torched down the sidelines for long gains—gains which eventually led to the Patriots' lone loss of the 2011 season. In that game, Kyle Arrington had two interceptions, leading to a bump in playing time.
Arrington has taken advantage. After failing as a starter last season, Arrington was expected to be the team's fourth or fifth corner this year. Surprisingly, Arrington has proven critics wrong and has quietly been the best cornerback and playmaker on the Patriots defense.
With Bodden gone, Arrington and exciting rookie Dowling will get their chances to shine in the starting lineup.
I expect both to take full advantage and prove the Patriots' brass right for releasing the 30-year-old veteran cornerback.