Victor Bolden Jr. had a difficult time staying on with an NFL team during his two-year career, but found a good home in the USFL.
The former Buffalo Bills wide receiver and kick returner had a breakout season in the new start-up league, being named to the All-USFL team earlier this week and later wrapping up the title for all-purpose yards. Bolden now joins a group of USFL standouts hoping to earn a chance with an NFL team in the coming months.
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Bolden’s Breakout Season
Though his career in the NFL fizzled out quickly, Bolden proved that he still has plenty of talent left. He was one of the USFL’s most dynamic playmakers, leading the Birmingham Stallions to a 9-1 record and a playoff berth while finishing second in the league with 41 receptions, racking up 397 receiving yards and a touchdown.
Bolden added 618 kick return yards and 176 punt return yards, adding up to a league-best 1,209 all-purpose yards over the 10-game season. He earned a place on the All-USFL team offense for his efforts.
The 27-year-old Bolden played two seasons in the NFL, joining the Bills for the conclusion of the 2018 season appearing in two games where he returned five kicks for a 23.2-yard average, with a longest of 28 yards. He played sparingly as a wide receiver, with just one catch during his stint with the San Francisco 49ers — which went for a 10-yard touchdown.
The Bills finished 6-10 during his season, which was Josh Allen’s rookie season when the team was still rebuilding.
Bolden had a rocky NFL career that included a four-game suspension in 2018 after testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug violation. Bolden said afterward that he did not realize the supplement he was taking contained a banned substance.
“As a professional athlete, I take full responsibility for not verifying the ingredients of the supplement,” Bolden said. “In the future, I will be much better educated when choosing what to put in my body. It hurts to know that I will not be on the field with my team for the first four games of the season.”
Bolden Could Earn Another Shot at the NFL
The strong season with the Stallions could earn Bolden another chance at an NFL roster. Bleacher Report’s Alex Ballentine identified him as one of the best NFL fits among all USFL players, saying he could come back in his former role as a return specialist and potential slot receiver.
“The 5’9″, 175-pounder is elusive and quick, making him an ideal candidate to take snaps in the slot and be special teams weapon,” Ballentine wrote. “He has led the 8-1 Birmingham Stallions in receiving while also handling kick and punt return duties.”
A reunion with the Bills does not seem likely, however. The team is deep at wide receiver, having a number of other speedy slot receivers who have experience in the return game. Chief among that group is Isaiah McKenzie, who looked impressive at the team’s minicamp this week and appears to be headed to a larger role in the offense in the coming season.
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