Jake Bailey

Patriots Place P Jake Bailey On IR, Sign P Michael Palardy

The Patriots will shut down their punter for a while. They placed Jake Bailey on IR and signed veteran Michael Palardy from their practice squad to the active roster, Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets.

Midway through his fourth season as the Patriots’ punter, Bailey is battling a back injury. The team will need to have other plans at punter for at least four games. These will be Bailey’s first missed games as a pro.

Despite veteran Ryan Allen engaging in a rather high-stakes punting duel with perennial All-Pro Johnny Hekker in Super Bowl LIII, the Pats made a change at that position ahead of the 2019 season. They drafted Bailey in the fifth round and jettisoned their six-year incumbent. Bailey has become one of the league’s better punters since taking over.

A Stanford product, Bailey earned first-team All-Pro recognition in 2020, when he averaged a career-high 48.3 yards per punt. After posting a 47.3-yard average last season, Bailey has seen his per-boot number drop to 42.1 this year — last in the league. Bailey finished fourth and ninth in this category in 2020 and ’21, respectively.

Palardy, 30, has not punted in a game this season. He has held steady gigs previously, most recently serving as the Dolphins’ punter in 16 games last season. Also Carolina’s punter from 2016-19, Palardy averaged 44.7 yards per punt with Miami. New England added Palardy to its practice squad earlier this month.

AFC East Notes: Bills, Chubb, Moore, Bailey

The Bills were connected to a number of running backs leading up to the deadline, including major names like Christian McCaffrey and Alvin Kamara. Bills GM Brandon Beane, who worked for the Panthers for nearly 20 years, acknowledged that he discussed McCaffrey with his former team but never made a formal offer, per Jay Skurski of The Buffalo News. On the flip side, Beane said he never discussed Kamara with the Saints.

Ultimately, the Bills ended up landing on Nyheim Hines, who was acquired from the Colts for a conditional draft pick and running back Zack Moss. Beane told reporters that he spoke with the Colts on Monday night but talks really heated up right before the deadline.

“Another guy with speed, experience,” Beane said of Hines (via Skurski). “He can go out there and play slot. I mean, back at N.C. State, he was a punt returner, kick returner, receiver, running back. He can just – he can do a lot of things. So, when he’s in the huddle, the defense knows he’s in the game, but they don’t know exactly where he’s going to line up. I think you’ll see that as James (Cook) gets going, too – you know, you don’t want to overload a rookie, but he’ll be used more as a receiver, slot, things like that. So this just gives us a guy who’s proven, who can add in, and we’ll see. But if we needed him to go play slot receiver for a game, once he picks up the offense, he’s got that skill set.”

Buffalo also acquired safety Dean Marlowe from the Falcons for a seventh-round pick. While neither the Marlowe nor Hines acquisitions stole headlines, Beane is confident that these depth moves will ultimately pay off in the long run.

“Neither one of these moves at 1 o’clock were anywhere near happening,” Beane said. “So if they didn’t happen, for whatever reason, I could have sat up here, said we believe in who we got, and we do, but … I’m always going to look. If it makes sense for the Buffalo Bills, today and long term, we’re going to try and make it happen. Of the two guys we got, there’s another 100-plus that we looked into. … I think we looked at, dug deep on just 10 safeties alone, but we looked at other positions – is there a chance to acquire a depth (player)? Maybe not a starter, but a depth piece, just to shore us up, should injury happen. But these were the two that we felt made the most sense.”

More notes from around the AFC East:

  • The Dolphins quickly signed their major deadline acquisition to an extension, inking Bradley Chubb a five-year, $110MM deal ($63.2MM guaranteed) earlier today. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport provides some more details (via Twitter) on that guaranteed money, noting that $33.4MM of the total is fully guaranteed at signing, while $53MM becomes fully guaranteed in 2023.
  • Elijah Moore was hoping for a trade out of New York prior to the deadline, and while Jets GM Joe Douglas acknowledged that he received “some calls” on the wideout, he made it sound like the front office never seriously entertained offers (per ESPN’s Rich Cimini on Twitter). “We love Elijah,” Douglas said (via NFL.com’s Kevin Patra). “We all stood on the table to take him high in the second round last year, and we think the world of him. Obviously, we’re a football family and anytime there’s an issue, we like to handle that in-house. But I was able to have a really good one-on-one conversation with Elijah. We think the world of him; we think he has a bright future as a New York Jet.”
  • Jets offensive tackle Mekhi Becton has been rehabbing a season-ending knee injury, and Douglas said there’s some optimism that he’ll be ready to go for next year’s OTAs (per Brian Costello of the New York Post on Twitter). The lineman specifically suffered an avulsion fracture of the right kneecap, knocking him out for a pivotal campaign. The 2020 first-round pick missed the majority of his sophomore season with a knee injury.
  • Patriots punter Jake Bailey has struggled this season, leading ESPN’s Mike Reiss to wonder if the veteran could be playing for his job. After working out a number of punters, the team ended up adding Michael Palardy to the practice squad, a further indication that Bailey’s job is on thin ice. “Right now we’re working through some things,” said special teams coordinator Cameron Achord. “Jake’s going to be OK. Jake’s a pro … He still has all the talent.” Bailey is averaging a career-low 42.9 yards per punt, and his 62.2 percent touchback percentage is also a career-worst mark.

AFC East Notes: Patriots, Gesicki, Lawson

Jake Bailey signed an extension with the Patriots earlier this month, and we’re now getting details on the punter’s new deal. According to Ben Volin of the Boston Globe (on Twitter), Bailey earned a four-year pact worth $13.125MM, with $6.275MM of that deal fully guaranteed.

Bailey got a raise on his 2022 salary, jumping from $3.986MM to $4.5MM. The move lowered his cap number, however, reducing it from $4.058MM to $2.025MM. Next year, Bailey’s cap number will increase to $3.415MM before going to $3.79MM in both 2024 and 2025.

“I’m just so happy and blessed I get a few more years here,” Bailey said last week (via the team’s website). “I was just kind of on the phone with my agent and I was like, ‘Alright, that’s it. We’re good with that,’ and it wasn’t like a crazy big moment. But it was fine and a huge milestone in my life and just thankful God put me in this position.”

The 2019 fifth-round pick out of Stanford has spent his entire career in New England, including a 2020 campaign where he earned first-team All-Pro honors.

More notes out of the AFC East…

  • While you should never put too much stock into preseason depth charts, Volin points out on Twitter that the Patriots‘ initial depth chart shows that the team is committing to Trent Brown at left tackle and Isaiah Wynn at right tackle. The two offensive lineman are swapping positions following a 2021 campaign that mostly saw Wynn at LT and Brown at RT.
  • Mike Gesicki leads the Dolphins in receptions since the beginning of the 2019 campaign, but the tight end may find himself as a secondary target for Tua Tagovailoa in 2022. As Adam H. Beasley of ProFootballNetwork.com points out, Gesicki will likely be fourth in line for targets behind wide receiver Tyreek Hill, Jaylen Waddle, and Cedrick Wilson. As new head coach Mike McDaniel noted, the offense won’t try to force the ball to the tight end, but there will surely be situations where the team is counting on Gesicki to contribute. “It’s something that we’ve talked to the tight ends about at length — it comes in waves,” McDaniel told Beasley. “There have been practices where he’s got seven or eight … he had more targets maybe Practice 7 — it was 7 or 8 — than Tyreek had. It’s just one of those things that you try in the game of football, especially when you are a pass receiver at any position, to really focus on what you can control. You can’t control the defenses. You can’t control the progression. You can’t control the pass rush.”
  • Veteran defensive end Shaq Lawson is back in Buffalo after re-joining the organization this offseason. Joe Buscaglia of The Athletic expects Lawson to ultimately make the Bills 53-man roster, but he’s fallen behind the likes of A.J. Epenesa and Boogie Basham on the depth chart and will likely serve as the team’s fifth defensive end. The 28-year-old started seven games for the Jets in 2021, collecting 23 tackles and one sack.
  • If Tre’Davious White isn’t ready for the start of the regular season, then there’s a good chance the Bills will be starting a rookie cornerback opposite Dane Jackson. As Jonathan Jones of CBS Sports writes, first-round rookie Kaiir Elam would be a natural choice, but he’s struggled during training camp. As a result, sixth-round rookie Christian Benford could find himself in the starting lineup come Week 1.

Patriots, P Jake Bailey Agree To Extension

The Patriots have taken care of an important piece of business with respect to their special teams. New England is extending punter Jake Bailey on a four-year, $13.5MM contract with $6.5MM fully guaranteed, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter (Twitter link). 

Bailey, 25, was set to enter the final year of his rookie contract. Now, he will be on the books through 2025, allowing the Patriots to have long-term stability at the position. The former fifth-rounder (who also handles kickoffs and is the team’s holder on field goals) earned Pro Bowl and First-Team All-Pro honors in 2020, after averaging 48.7 yards per punt. That average dipped slightly last season, and a league-leading three of his punts were blocked.

Despite that, Bailey’s success from the year prior earned him a sizeable raise via the Proven Performance Escalator. As a result, he was scheduled to carry a cap hit of $4.05MM this season. Not surprisingly, then, the Stanford alum was widely thought to be due an extension at some point this offseason.

Schefter’s colleague Mike Reiss adds that this new deal will lower Bailey’s 2022 cap charge by roughly $1.85MM – a relatively nominal amount, but one which is particularly significant for the Patriots, as they entered the day with the least cap space in the league. Even with this extension, they will have less than $5MM in financial wiggle room.

The $3.375MM-per-year average of the deal moves Bailey into second in the league in terms of annual compensation at the position, behind only Seattle’s Michael Dickson. He will be in place for the foreseeable future in New England, as he looks to repeat the success he has already enjoyed in his career.

Minor NFL Transactions: 7/29/22

Here are Friday’s minor moves:

Carolina Panthers

Chicago Bears

Cleveland Browns

Dallas Cowboys

Green Bay Packers

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars

Los Angeles Rams

New England Patriots

New York Jets

San Francisco 49ers

  • Signed: DL Tomasi Laulile

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tennessee Titans

Signed as a UDFA shortly after the draft, Mevis fared rather poorly in a Thursday workout. The rookie kicker missed badly on three warmup kicks, one of which drilling ex-Cowboys HC Dave Campo (of Hard Knocks 2002 fame), per ESPN.com’s Michael DiRocco. Mevis had struggled during the start of Jaguars camp. This is Fry’s seventh NFL team since he entered the league in 2019. The workout-circuit regular has played in three regular-season games — one-offs with the Falcons, Bengals and Chiefs. The Jags also have kicker Ryan Santoso on their roster.

A hamstring injury, sustained during a workout shortly after a flight to Green Bay, sidelined Watkins for the start of Packers camp. The veteran will try to shake a well-earned injury-prone label in Green Bay, though the former top-five pick’s roster spot may not be 100% secure. Andrews, who returned in 2020 after missing all of the 2019 season due to blood clots, underwent offseason shoulder surgery. He is back for a seventh season as the Patriots’ starting center.

Titans, P Kern Rework Contract

With Titans’ punter Brett Kern heading into the final year of his contract, he’s agreed to terms with Tennessee to take about a $1MM pay cut, according to Field Yates of ESPN (Twitter). The longtime Titan was set to earn $3.2MM to complete a four-year, $12.65MM deal, but will now make $2.2MM for the 2022 NFL season. 

The 14-year veteran is Tennessee’s longest-tenured player and has spent all but one of his NFL seasons in Tennessee after signing as an undrafted free agent in Denver. There are only four punters older than Kern and only Sam Koch, Andy Lee, and Dustin Colquitt have been in the league longer.

The three-time Pro Bowler’s play has dipped a bit in recent years. Since it’s mostly a result of the team’s offensive ability and a more successful offense can lower the number of a punter’s opportunities, it can be hard to truly gauge a punter’s play. Still, Kern pinned the opposing team’s offense inside the 20-yard line only 18 times last year, his lowest season total since his rookie season as a Bronco. He also missed three games for the second consecutive year.

Kern’s initial salary of $3.2MM would’ve made him the highest paid punter in the 2022 season (before Jake Bailey‘s proven performance bonus). With the updated number down to $2.2MM, Kern ranks as the ninth-highest paid punter for the upcoming year. The extra $1MM for Tennessee will grant them a bit of wiggle room for cap spending.

AFC Notes: Bailey, Steelers, Collins, Weeks

Going into the last year of his contract, Patriots punter Jake Bailey was set to earn a base salary of $925,000 for the 2022 NFL season. Due to a proven performance bonus that was triggered when Bailey was selected to the 2020 Pro Bowl, Bailey is on track to be the NFL’s highest-paid punter with a 2022 salary of $3.98MM, according to Mike Reiss of ESPN.

A knee injury limited Bailey in the 2021 season which saw him struggle to live up to his expected salary. It’s now assumed that the Patriots will begin working towards a contract extension to lessen the cap hit Bailey is posed to hold. In a normal situation, the Patriots might want to see another season of success out of Bailey after a down 2021, but Bailey’s raise puts a little pressure on New England to work out a deal sooner rather than later.

Here are a few more notes from around the AFC, starting with a note from the Steel City:

  • In an article for The Athletic, Ed Bouchette poses the question: What does Pittsburgh do about their pass-catchers this offseason? The Steelers have long subscribed to the notion that they don’t need to sign a receiver to a multi-year extension (with the exception of Antonio Brown). They can (and do) always just draft another. Now, JuJu Smith-Schuster, James Washington, and Ray-Ray McCloud are headed towards free agency. They still have Diontae Johnson (heading into a contract year, himself) and Chase Claypool, but both have had their own issues: Johnson with drops and Claypool failing to improve on an impressive rookie-season. Pittsburgh can (and likely will) turn to the second and third round of the draft to address the thin roster, as usual, but do they break protocol to ensure they have at least three receivers they can trust?
  • After a one-year deal brought him to Houston, defensive tackle Maliek Collins has the Texans hooked. The 3-tech tackle played a pivotal role in now-head coach Lovie Smith‘s defense and the Texans are determined to pluck him off the open market and keep him in Houston. Luckily for Lovie, the feeling is reportedly mutual, according to Aaron Wilson of Pro Football Network. Collins is a strong fit in Houston and embraced his new team and his role on the team. Smith gushed about Collins and his impact, identifying him as the linchpin of their defensive system.
  • We mentioned a couple weeks ago that the Texans were able to re-sign long-time long snapper Jon Weeks on a one-year deal. Details on the contract were provided this week by Aaron Wilson on Twitter. Weeks will stay around the veteran minimum, slightly increasing his base salary from $1.08MM to $1.12MM and slightly increasing his signing bonus from $137,500 to $152,500. Consider it a cost-of-living raise for Weeks who will become the franchise’s longest-tenured player of all time when he reaches his 13th season this fall, passing star wide receiver Andre Johnson for the most seasons in Houston of all time.

AFC East Notes: Brady, Jenkins, Lotulelei

Patriots QB Tom Brady will play against the Cowboys this afternoon, but as Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network (video link) notes, the team will need to closely monitor Brady’s elbow moving forward. Brady was unable to finish practice on Friday due to elbow pain, and while he was able to take all necessary reps on Saturday, he will continue to get work on the elbow as the season goes on.

Now for more from the AFC East:

  • It’s not unusual for teams to distance themselves from certain prospects in the pre-draft process in order to hide their interest in those prospects, and that’s exactly what the Patriots did with punter Jake Bailey, as Mike Reiss of ESPN.com writes. New England neither interviewed nor held a workout with Bailey, but it traded up in the fifth round of this year’s draft to select him. That move paid off, as the rookie specialist has two AFC Special Teams Player of the Week nods and is currently a favorite for the Pro Bowl.
  • Rich Cimini of ESPN.com expects the Jets to make a concerted effort to re-sign linebacker Jordan Jenkins this offseason. Jenkins, who will be eligible for unrestricted free agency for the first time, has steadily improved during his first four years in the league, and despite missing two games this season with a calf injury, he has posted five sacks, just two shy of his career-high of seven (which he set last year). Jenkins will likely command a contract paying him over $10MM per year.
  • The Jets will have a lot of positions to address this offseason, but tight end isn’t one of them. As Cimini tweets, the club appears set at TE with Ryan Griffin — who agreed to a three-year extension on Saturday — Chris Herndon, and improving rookie Trevon Wesco.
  • Bills fans have been less than impressed with the performances of front-seven defenders Star Lotulelei and Trent Murphy, but Joe Buscaglia of The Athletic says (via Twitter) that Lotulelei will definitely be back with the team next year (the Bills could save $10.1MM against the 2020 cap by cutting Lotulelei after the season, but they would also take on a $7.8MM dead cap charge). Murphy’s status is a bit tougher to predict, but if the Bills move on from Shaq Lawson, Murphy is likely to be back for the final year of his contract.

Patriots Notes: Edelman, Hoyer, Punter

Over the past 10 years, there have only been two occasions where the Patriots have carried three quarterbacks. With Tom Brady and rookie fourth-rounder Jarrett Stidham being locks to make the team, Brian Hoyer understandably finds himself on the roster bubble.

“You can’t really worry about that. My approach is to just be the best I can be, and I think that will be good enough,” Hoyer told ESPN’s Mike Reiss. “It’s not something I’m really concerned with. If anything, I’m trying to push the guy ahead of me, and I love being in that room with him. We have such a healthy competition on a daily basis, and I know that’s made me that much better since I’ve come back.”

After spending the first three years of his career with the Patriots, Hoyer returned to New England following the Jimmy Garoppolo trade in 2017. Reiss notes that the 33-year-old has been “very sharp” over the past few weeks, which could end up validating his spot on the roster.

Let’s check out some more notes out of New England…

  • Patriots wideout Julian Edelman has passed his physical and been removed from the non-football injury list, reports ESPN’s Field Yates (via Twitter). The veteran suffered a thumb injury in late-July that ultimately sidelined him for about three weeks. It’s been a busy few days for the Pats’ wide receiver corps. Embattled wideout Josh Gordon was reinstated from suspension on Friday, and he was subsequently placed on the team’s active/NFI list. To make room on the roster, the organization moved on from Dontrelle Inman.
  • The Patriots are set to release veteran punter Ryan Allen, but it sounds like they might not be ready to hand over the keys to rookie Jake Bailey. Ryan Dunleavy of NJ.com tweets that the Patriots made a claim for punter Johnny Townsend, who was waived by the Raiders last week. The Giants ended up claiming the 2018 fifth-rounder.
  • While the Patriots tight end depth chart is still a question mark, Nick Underhill of The Athletic writes that the team’s offense is trending upwards. Last week, the team was running out the likes of Braxton Berrios and Gunner Olszewski with their first-team offense. Several days later, the team’s depth chart has been revamped. It goes beyond the return of Edelman and Gordon, as the team has potentially found some worthy targets in undrafted wideout Jakobi Meyers and third-round running back Damien Harris. Add that pair to Phillip Dorsett and first-rounder N’Keal Harry (as well as running backs James White, Sony Michel, and Rex Burkhead), and there’s plenty of reason for optimism in New England.

Patriots To Release P Ryan Allen

The Patriots are switching punters. ESPN’s Mike Reiss reports (via Twitter) that the team will be releasing veteran Ryan Allen. The news was first reported by Jim McBride of The Boston Globe (on Twitter). This makes rookie Jake Bailey the team’s new starting punter.

Allen joined New England as a 2013 undrafted free agent out of Louisiana Tech, and he proceeded to play in every game for the Patriots during his six-year stint. The 29-year-old won three Super Bowls during his time with New England, including a Super Bowl LIII performance where he placed three of his five punts inside the 20.

Despite his standout performance during the Super Bowl, Allen inked a modest one-year extension with New England this past offseason. The veteran reportedly turned down multiyear offers, as he was looking to boost his value in time for next offseason. Allen will now have to find that one-year, prove-it deal elsewhere.

The team will now turn to Bailey, a fifth-round pick out of Stanford. The 22-year-old has garnered a pair of punt attempts this preseason, averaging 49.5-yards per punt. For comparison’s sake, Allen averaged 43.8 yards on his five punts. As Ben Volin of the Boston Globe tweets, this will be the first time in Bill Belichick’s 20 seasons with New England where he’s opted for a righty punter.