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Monday, March 8, 2010
Leigh Bodden agreement analysis

By Mike Reiss

Leigh Bodden thrived in the Patriots' system in 2009 as a fundamentally sound cornerback who was strong in run support and competitive in pass coverage (team-high 17 passes defended). He was one of the team's most consistent players on defense, his 82-percent playtime total ranking third among all defenders, while his toughness was exhibited as he played through injury.

Bodden's agreement in principle to stay with the Patriots, assuming there are no unexpected snags, is a win-win situation.

Bodden's preference was to remain in New England, but financial considerations also played a part in his decision. Having entered the NFL as a rookie free agent out of Duquesne, he had never received a big payday on the open market.

Now the sturdy Bodden (6-foot-1, 193 pounds) is in line to receive the largest contract of his seven-year career.

Meanwhile, the Patriots retain their best cornerback and a solid locker-room presence. Had Bodden signed elsewhere, the Patriots' need at the position would have been high, with second-year man Darius Butler, 14-year veteran Shawn Springs and third-year players Jonathan Wilhite and Terrence Wheatley topping the depth chart.

Keeping Bodden in the mix on the right side is a key piece, giving the Patriots the flexibility to address other needs.