Justin Bethel

Dolphins Re-Sign CB Justin Bethel

The Dolphins are bringing back some secondary depth and a key special teamer in cornerback Justin Bethel, according to the team’s official Twitter account. The veteran defensive back had largely been relegated to special teams but found new life on defense with the Dolphins last year.

After a long opening tenure in Arizona, Bethel has bounced around from the Falcons to the Ravens to the Patriots before finally landing with the Dolphins last year. Although he used to get many more defensive playing opportunities early in his career, Bethel was always known as a special teams savant. In his second, third, and fourth seasons, Bethel made three consecutive Pro Bowl appearances as a special-teamer.

As he moved on from the Cardinals, and as time went on, Bethel’s snap count on defense grew smaller and smaller. 2022 saw a resurgence for the 32-year-old as the Dolphins allowed Bethel more playing time on defense than he had seen in the previous four years combined, since his time in Arizona. Bethel wasn’t the team’s best defender but delivered as a depth option, totaling one interception and four passes defensed.

Miami now boasts two stars at the cornerback position and retained many of their talented backup pieces, as well. Bethel’s role projects to be similar in 2023 as it was last year. With the added talent at the position, he may not be required as much on defense, but he provides the Dolphins with veteran depth and his usual stellar special teams play.

Dolphins, DB Justin Bethel Agree To Deal

Although Justin Bethel has turned his talents on special teams into a lengthy NFL career, he did not make the Patriots’ 53-man roster this year. But another AFC East team will provide an opportunity.

Bethel is signing with the Dolphins. As a vested veteran, Bethel bypassed the waiver process and will head to Miami after spending the past two-plus seasons in New England. To make room on their 53-man roster, the Dolphins placed safety Clayton Fejedelem on IR.

The former sixth-round pick has 10 seasons under his belt; three of those (2013-15) produced Pro Bowl nods. While those honors came during Bethel’s run as a part-time cornerback in Arizona, they were associated with his special teams acumen. Bethel, 32, never worked out as a corner but has become one of the league’s top special-teamers.

The Patriots used Bethel on 84% of their special teams plays in 2020 and had him out there on 79% of such sequences last season. High-level valuers of special teams performance, as Matthew Slater‘s career illustrates, the Pats still could not find a roster spot for the veteran this year.

While Bethel did not have a regular role on defense in New England, he will rejoin former Pats cornerbacks coach Josh Boyer, who is going into his third season as the Dolphins’ defensive coordinator. Bethel will see his previous teammates in Week 1.

Patriots Trim Roster To 53 Players

The Patriots cut down their roster to 53 players today. In the process, they let go of a handful of recent draft picks, including a 2022 selection:



Placed on IR:

The Patriots acknowledged some of their previous draft mistakes today. The team let go of three 2021 draft picks in wide receiver Tre Nixon, linebacker Will Sherman, and linebacker Cameron McGrone, and they even let go of a 2022 draft pick in sixth-round running back Kevin Harris. However, perhaps the biggest move was releasing tight end end Devin Asiasi. After waiving fellow 2020 third-round tight end Dalton Keene earlier this month, Asiasi was let go today. Despite his third-round status, Asiasi only saw time in 10 games for the Patriots in two years. With Asiasi and Keene out of the picture, it was expected that Lil’Jordan Humphrey would make the squad as a hybrid WR/TE. However, for the time being, the Patriots will roll with only two tight ends in Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith.

Terrance Mitchell started 29 games over the past two seasons in stints with the Browns and Texans, and he had a chance to compete for a starting gig in New England. However, despite all the uncertainty surrounding the position, the veteran wasn’t able to make his mark, leading to a surprising release. Justin Bethel is another surprising cut, as the veteran has established himself as a special teams ace in recent years.

Pats Re-Sign Veteran DB Devin McCourty

The Patriots are bringing back veteran defensive back Devin McCourty for another season, according to the twins’ joint-Twitter account earlier this evening. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reports that the older twin will be returning on a one-year deal worth $9MM. 

McCourty has started every game he’s ever played for the Patriots. Over his 12-year career, McCourty has appeared in 188 regular season games and 24 playoff games, only missing 5 games throughout his career. While he’s never quite matched the production of his rookie year when he intercepted 7 passes and broke up 17, he has long been a staple in the New England secondary, never failing to secure an interception in a season.

The Patriots tend to play three safeties and two corners on defense a lot of the time. Relying on J.C. Jackson and Jalen Mills to lock down outside receivers, McCourty, Adrian Phillips, and Kyle Dugger are able to roam around and cover based on matchups and formations. The trio of safeties produced 11 interceptions between them, with Dugger coming on strong in his second season. The Patriots would love to see Dugger seamlessly step in when the 34-year-old McCourty decides to hang up the cleats.

With Jackson heading to the open market, the Patriots’ cornerbacks cupboard is looking pretty bare. Behind Mills is third-year corner Joejuan Williams and reserve corner Justin Bethel. McCourty’s experience at corner could be useful, but should be thought of as a last resort, as most corners move to safety in their advanced age, not the other way around. More likely the Patriots will look to the Draft and free agency to fill that hole.

Regardless, the Patriots bring back a leader. A durable one. He may not be able to produce on the field like he did in the 2010’s, but his role as the quarterback of the secondary makes him a valuable addition to the team’s 2022 defense.

Patriots Re-Sign Justin Bethel

The Patriots have agreed to a brand new deal with special teams standout Justin Bethel (Twitter link via ESPN.com’s Mike Reiss). The new three-year, $6MM deal will tie Bethel to the Pats through 2023.

[RELATED: Patriots Re-Sign QB Cam Newton]

Early in his career, Bethel made a name for himself with the Cardinals. He made the Pro Bowl every year from 2013-2015 and stayed with the club through ’17. Then, he moved around a bit, spending time with the Falcons and Ravens before finding his place with the Patriots.

Roughly one year ago today, Bethel had surgery to repair a shoulder issue that had been hindering him. Fortunately, he was able to bounce back for the start of the season and appear in all 16 games for New England in 2020.

AFC East Rumors: Patriots, Brady, Jets

As speculation continues to swirl around Tom Brady, Tom E. Curran of NBC Sports Boston offers up an assuring and expected update for Patriots fans. No one knows what the quarterback will do when free agency begins, but the two sides are still in communication with each other. They’ve yet to meet, but texts are still being exchanged and head coach Bill Belichick has been among those in contact with the future Hall of Famer.

One source who spoke with Curran dismissed the notion that Brady has mentally divorced himself from the Pats.

Of course not. There’s an attachment there. You can’t be someplace for 20 years and not have an attachment,” the anonymous source said. “That’s just not who he is.”

Brady will listen closely to the Patriots’ pitch, Curran writes, and he expects them to pinpoint all of the comforts they offer against the backdrop of the unknown that he might find elsewhere.

Wherever he goes, there won’t be one guy who knows what he wants done and how he wants it done,” one league source said. “Is he going to coach the receivers coach on how to coach the receivers? Or coach the offensive coordinator? There’s a million things.”

While we wait for Brady’s next move, here’s a look at more from the AFC East:

  • In his latest mock draft, Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller has the Jets taking Georgia offensive tackle Andrew Thomas. Some expect the Jets to target a wide receiver at No. 11 overall, but league sources tell Miller that the Joe Douglas-led front office will not seek a WR in the first round. Thomas, meanwhile, can solve the Jets’ most glaring need and protect Sam Darnold at the left tackle spot.
  • Patriots special teams ace Justin Bethel had surgery to repair a shoulder issue that had been bothering him, according to ESPN.com’s Mike Reiss. The good news is that Bethel should be good to go for the start of the season. The Pats may need the former Raven on hand since several special teams stalwarts – including Matthew Slater and Nate Ebner – are slated to reach free agency later this month.
  • Could Josh Norman reunite with his old friends from Carolina? Earlier this week, Bills GM Brandon Beane said that he’s talked with the veteran cornerback.

Minor NFL Transactions: 10/23/19

Here are today’s minor transactions:

Cincinnati Bengals

Denver Broncos

  • Claimed: DL Jonathan Harris (from Bears)

Detroit Lions

Houston Texas

New England Patriots

New Orleans Saints

Philadelphia Eagles

Seattle Seahawks

Patriots To Sign DB Justin Bethel

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.

Ravens Release Justin Bethel

On Monday, Ravens head coach John Harbaugh announced the release of cornerback Justin Bethel. He also called him “the best special teams player in the NFL.”

Bethel didn’t lose his job for performance reasons. Instead, Harbaugh admitted that the Ravens were releasing the veteran in order to potentially pick up a fourth-round compensatory pick.

It’s complicated. Or, as Harbaugh put it, it’s a “funky” rule that will give the Ravens some extra firepower in the draft after defensive lineman Brent Urban, who left the Ravens for the Titans in the offseason, was cut by Tennessee last week.

Because 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.

Bethel will now seek work elsewhere, after notching a team-high six tackles for Baltimore.

Ravens Sign CB Justin Bethel

The Ravens announced that they’ve signed cornerback/special teamer Justin Bethel to a two-year contract. Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com (Twitter link) first reported Baltimore as nearing a deal with Bethel.

Bethel has been a starting cornerback in the past, as he played at least 25% of the Cardinals’ defensive snaps in each season from 2015-17. But he’s struggled in that capacity, and is known primarily for his work on special teams. A three-time Pro Bowler and two-time first-team All-Pro as a special teamer, Bethel played zero defensive snaps for the Falcons in 2018 but saw action on two-thirds of Atlanta’s ST snaps.

Bethel will have little opportunity to play defense in a Baltimore secondary that ranks as one of the league’s best (especially after adding Earl Thomas), but the Ravens have always placed a strong emphasis on special teams play. Bethel will play under new ST coordinator Chris Horton, who replaced longtime Ravens special teams coach Jerry Rosburg earlier today.