FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — When receiver Kendrick Bourne took a short pass, cut to the sideline, and tight-roped it 41 yards for a touchdown in the New England Patriots’ victory over the Tennessee Titans in Week 12, the reaction as the play unfolded was notable.
“Bourne Ultimatum!” CBS play-by-play man Ian Eagle said.
“Bourne to run after the catch!” exclaimed Patriots radio play-by-play man Bob Socci.
Then after the game, even coach Bill Belichick had some fun, playfully re-enacting Bourne’s stiff-arm technique in the locker-room celebration.
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It all reflected the excitement, and fun, that Bourne has brought to New England since signing a three-year free-agent deal with a maximum value of $22 million in the offseason. Every time he touches the ball, there is potential for dynamic results.
“KB has given us a lot of explosive plays through the course of the year,” Belichick said.
Bourne’s 623 receiving yards lead the Patriots despite his standing as the team’s No. 3 option when it comes to playing time (50.8% of the snaps).
According to NFL Next Gen Stats, Bourne’s reception percentage is 11.1 points higher than expected, second best among wide receivers (minimum 30 targets). He has also gained the sixth most yards after the catch above expectation, per NFL Next Gen Stats.
Given his run-after-the-catch success, it’s no surprise that offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels has found other ways to get the football into Bourne’s hands, which includes six rushes for 78 yards (13.0 avg.).
“It’s definitely new for me. I’ve never really ran the ball the way they use me here. I enjoy it, I love it,” the 6-foot-1 and 190-pound Bourne said. “It gives us versatility, and Josh does a really good job of doing it at the perfect time. He’ll run ‘right, right, right’ and then we’ll come back and go left, and defenses are just confused. They don’t know what’s going on. … It’s just a different threat.”
Bourne’s arrival this offseason after four years with the San Francisco 49ers wasn’t met with the same buzz as others in the Patriots’ big-bucks free-agent class. Bourne said the Philadelphia Eagles were another team that expressed interest, but it was New England that was most aggressive, so there wasn’t much consideration to go elsewhere.
He has wasted little time making moves on and off the field.
Matthew Berry, Stephania Bell and Field Yates break down Kendrick Bourne’s recent success for the Patriots.
Bourne quickly partnered with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Massachusetts to serve as an honorary board member. And true to how he describes himself on his Instagram account, as an entrepreneur, he’s working with his agents at Disruptive Sports in the Non-fungible Token (NFTs) space on artwork that captures his unique flair.
The combination of TDs and NFTs suits him well. And, of course, wins.
“I want to be everything they want me to be. I’m trying to grow as they planned,” Bourne said. “That’s everything for any player — what they expect of you, you want to do at the best of your ability. When you get better at it, it feels better, and you get more confident. I’m getting more confident.”