4:34pm: This visit apparently went incredibly well. The Patriots are signing Justin Bethel, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). Bethel will add firepower to the Patriots’ special teams units. The Ravens’ recent release of Bethel will benefit the AFC’s perennial Super Bowl favorites.
4:27pm: A day after the Ravens released Bethel for procedural purposes, the veteran cornerback/special-teamer visited the Patriots, according to Field Yates of ESPN.com (on Twitter).
Although Bethel did not work out as the Cardinals’ starting corner opposite Patrick Peterson, he has become a top special-teamer. Bill Belichick has been known to value that skill, and the 20th-year Patriots coach/exec is taking a look at one of this year’s top AFC rivals’ recently discarded assets.
Bethel, 29, made two tackles in seven Ravens games and recovered a fumble. John Harbaugh, a former special teams coordinator, called the veteran the best special teams player in the league. Bethel made the Pro Bowl three times for his special teams acumen, doing so from 2013-15 in Arizona. It will be interesting to see where he lands. The Patriots already employ a seven-time Pro Bowl special-teamer in Matthew Slater.
Because defensive lineman Brent Urban did not last on the Titans’ roster until Week 10, the Ravens lost their shot at a fourth-round compensatory pick. By dropping Bethel, they resumed their place in the queue. Baltimore values compensatory picks immensely, and it cost the franchise a key specialist in a 5-2 season.