The New England Patriots received some bad news on Friday when the NFL announced that rookie running back Brandon Bolden has been suspended four games for violating the league's policy against performance-enhancing drugs.
Bolden's suspension will begin immediately and he will be eligible to return to the team on Monday, Dec. 3. Bolden is earning a base salary of $390,000 this season and will forfeit four game checks, or $91,765, in pretax income, as well as be ineligible for any postseason awards.
Undrafted out of Mississippi, the Patriots signed Bolden to a three-year contract that included a $15,000 signing bonus, one of the largest guarantees made to this year's class of undrafted free agents. During the preseason, Bolden was second on the Patriots with 128 rushing yards and the ability to play fullback and contribute to the return game helped earn him a spot on the 53-man roster. In six regular-season games, Bolden has 43 carries for 234 yards and two touchdowns, including a 137-yard effort in the Patriots' 52-28 win over the Buffalo Bills in Week 4.
Bolden missed the Patriots' previous two games with a knee injury and had already been ruled out for Sunday's game against the Bills.
The substance that triggered Bolden's suspension was not disclosed, but he is far from being the first player suspended under the league's steroid policy this season. Cleveland Browns cornerback Joe Haden, and New York Giants safeties Tyler Sash and Will Hill served suspensions earlier this season, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers-turned-Patriots cornerback Aqib Talib has one week remaining on his suspension before joining his new team on Monday. All four defensive backs tested positive for Adderall, which is a banned substance if used without the written approval from the National Football League.