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For the second time in a week, the New England Patriots have addressed the cornerback position, reaching an agreement with unrestricted free agent Leigh Bodden on a one-year contract.
Bodden agreed to a one-year deal with the for the veteran's minimum of $750,000. The value of the contract, confirmed by team sources, will make Bodden a free agent again next spring.Bodden told Sirius NFL Radio he settled for the one-year deal after seeking a long-term contract because he wanted to be a Patriot. "I am just excited I finally got something done with them," Bodden said. "We just got the one-year deal done and I am excited to go play with Bill [Belichick] and the Patriots and have a great year. "The Patriots always are destined to make the playoffs and hopefully I can shoot for that, make the playoffs, play good in the playoffs and hit free agency again. I'd rather not, New England is a great team and I would rather re-sign with them, and hopefully we can come to terms during the season. If not, then after the season."
Last week, New England reached a three-year record with veteran cornerback Shawn Springs, who had been released by the Washington Redskins. Bodden, who played last year for the Detroit Lions, was arguably the best cover man still available in free agency, according to most pro scouts.
Bodden, 27, visited with New England officials and coaches three weeks ago but was not offered a contract at the time. He was released by the Lions this spring to avoid paying him a seven-figure roster bonus. The Patriots stayed in close contact with Bodden for the past three weeks, waited for the cornerback market to settle in, then signed him."There were other teams interested, but the market was just kind of crazy," he said. "So I decided to just go with the one-year deal instead of maybe then signing a long-term deal I probably wouldn't be happy with next year or in two years."
The former Duquesne star was signed by Cleveland as an undrafted free agent in 2003. He played the first five seasons of his NFL career with the Browns before being dealt to the Lions last spring in a trade that sent defensive tackle Shaun Rogers to the Browns. The Lions quickly signed him to a four-year, $27 million contract, but he played only one year of the deal.
The six-year veteran is a versatile defender, who can play man-to-man coverage, off-man, and zone looks. He is a physical, aggressive cornerback, who can redirect receivers. At one point, earlier in his career, Bodden was regarded as one of the fastest players in the league.
In his only season with the Lions, Bodden started a career-best 15 games in 16 overall appearances. With the Lions, Bodden registered 73 tackles, one interception and 13 passes defensed. For his career, Bodden has played in 75 games and started 53 of them. He has 299 career tackles, 13 interceptions, and 52 passes defensed.In other team news, long snapper Nathan Hodel has signed with the Patriots. Tuesday's move fills a vacancy created when Lonie Paxton signed as a free agent with the Denver Broncos after spending the past nine seasons as the Patriots long snapper. The 31-year-old Hodel has spent the past seven seasons with the Arizona Cardinals. Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.