After being out of the NFL for the last three seasons, the USFL was just the springboard that Victor Bolden Jr. needed.
The former Buffalo Bills wide receiver and kick returner was a breakout star in the newly formed league, helping lead the Birmingham Stallions to the championship while leading the league in all-purpose yards. Bolden will now have the chance to return to the NFL.
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Bolden’s New Deal
According to the NFL transaction wire, Bolden signed with Arizona Cardinals on a one-year deal. Bolden’s last action in the NFL came in the 2018 season, when he joined the Bills as a late-season addition and returned five kicks for a 23.2-yard average. Bolden was mostly a return specialist during his two seasons in the NFL, though did take some snaps at wide receiver for the San Francisco 49ers and had one career catch, a 10-yard touchdown.
His NFL career had some bumps, including a four-game suspension in 2018 for a performance-enhancing drug violation, which Bolden said came from a supplement that he did not realize contained a banned substance. He took responsibility for the mistake and vowed to be more careful in the future.
“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 found the second chance he needed through the USFL. He finished second in the league with 41 receptions, racking up 397 receiving yards and a touchdown. Bolden also had 618 kick return yards and 176 punt return yards, giving him a league a league-best 1,209 all-purpose yards over the 10-game season.
The regular-season performance earned Bolden a place on the All-USFL team offense, and he waslater was named MVP of the title game after making six catches for 64 yards and the game-winning touchdown.
Other USFL Standouts Return to NFL
Bolden isn’t the only USFL player to gain another shot at the NFL after the startup league’s season conclude. Cornerback Ike Brown, who originally signed with the Bills as an undrafted free agent in 2020, signed with the Las Vegas Raiders. Brown was a standout for the New Orleans Breakers in the USFL’s inaugural season, making 16 tackles and two interceptions.
The former Florida International cornerback had only a brief NFL career with the Bills. Shortly after joining the team, he took to social media to explain that he was calling it quits, and the team placed him on the reserve/retired list.
“In the midst of everything I love the game but doing it so long to a point I fell out of love with actually playing it,” Brown wrote at the time, via the Buffalo News.