Wednesday, March 22 was a busy day for the New England Patriots‘ defense. Not only did they re-sign cornerback Jalen Mills, but they also officially signed linebacker/special teamer Chris Board in free agency.
Since Patriots fans are already pretty familiar with Mills, let’s take a look at the new guy.
Chris Board Inks Multi-Year Deal With Patriots
While NFL insider Tom Pelissero first reported the signing on Friday, March 17, the transaction didn’t become official until five days later. Per Spotrac, Board’s contract is a two-year, $5 million deal with $2.6 million guaranteed. The contract also includes a $995,000 signing bonus and up to $1.7 million in incentives.
At first glance, this deal appears to benefit both sides. Board gets some security from a multi-year deal and $2.6 million guaranteed, while New England gets a versatile player without breaking the bank.
Furthermore, Board carries a relatively modest cap hit of $2.1 million, which still leaves the team with roughly $12.3 million in cap space according to Over the Cap.
New Patriots Player “Grateful” for “Special” Journey
For his part, Board appears excited to join the Patriots based on his tweet from March 17, when news of his contract broke. He shared the following message on his Twitter account:
As Board said, it’s been quite a journey for the 27-year-old. After playing high school football in Florida, Board traveled across the country to play college football at North Dakota State, where he and the Bison won three FCS Division 1 championships together. That helped get him noticed by the Baltimore Ravens, who signed him as an undrafted free agent in 2018.
Board made the team and spent the next four seasons with the Ravens, helping them make the playoffs in the first three of those years. He played nearly every game, too, missing just two regular-season contests in 2019 and one game in 2021.
While he was initially used almost exclusively on special teams as a rookie, Board saw his role on defense increase over time. His defensive snap percentage grew during all four of his seasons with Baltimore, jumping from 1% in 2018 to 33% in 2022, according to Pro Football Reference. He remained active on special teams as well, playing at least 72% of ST snaps every year.
The Ravens parted ways with Board after a disappointing 2021 season for the team in which Baltimore failed to reach the postseason. Board quickly found a new home with the Detroit Lions, who were featured on the 2022 season of HBO’s Hard Knocks TV series. Board helped the Lions significantly improve their record during his lone season with the team, going from 3-13-1 in 2021 to 9-8 in 2022.
Now with the Patriots, Board has been fortunate in his NFL career thus far. He’s gotten to play for three respected head coaches in John Harbaugh, Dan Campbell, and now Bill Belichick. He’s never been on a bad team, making the playoffs three times and coming close the other two times. He’s also avoided major injury, missing just three games in his career so far.
Board will look to continue his special career journey in New England, where he’ll get to play for one of the most accomplished coaches on one of the winningest franchises in NFL history.