Ex-Patriots Slot Receiver Opens Up About ‘Tough’ Exit From New England

'It's cool, obviously, hearing that from Bill Belichick'

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January 19

The New England Patriots’ decision to draft Braxton Berrios in 2018 surprised no one. But the slot receiver’s tenure in Foxboro ended after just one year and zero regular-season snaps.

Berrios spent his entire rookie season on injured reserve, then battled a hamstring injury that limited him in the 2019 preseason. With his early-season availability in question, the Patriots opted to waive him during final roster cuts, keeping undrafted rookie wideouts Jakobi Meyers and Gunner Olszewski instead.

The rival Jets claimed Berrios off waivers, and the Miami product has been with New York ever since, upping his statistical production each year.

During an appearance this week on Barstool Sports’ “Pardon My Take” podcast, Berrios reflected on his difficult exit from New England and receiving the news of his release from head coach Bill Belichick.

“It was a tough conversation, obviously,” Berrios said. “He was very complimentary. They’re very professional about everything they do, and that’s the problem. When you get injured over there, it’s a little different. It’s looked upon differently than other places, and it’s just, that’s what it was. Luckily, it landed me in my next spot, and that kind of led me to here. So it is what it is. It wasn’t a fun time, though.”

Though he opted not to roster Berrios in 2019, Belichick still thought highly of the sixth-round draft pick. Berrios confirmed a report from The Athletic’s Connor J. Hughes that Belichick called Jets coach Adam Gase after Berrios was claimed to share a positive review of the young wideout.

“Gase actually told me that story toward the end of that season,” Berrios said on “PMT.” “We were sitting in a walkthrough on Saturday, and something came up and he said, ‘By the way, I’ve never told you this story.’ And he told me that story.

“Belichick called him, and he thought it was about Demaryius Thomas at the time, because Demaryius Thomas was with me in New England at the time and then he came over to New York. And he said (Belichick) didn’t talk about Demaryius at all. He said, ‘Hey, man, you really got a good one (in Berrios). We wish we could have kept him.’ And it’s cool, obviously, hearing that from Bill Belichick. But yeah, what can you do.”

Berrios went on to appear in all but one game for the Jets over the last three seasons. He enjoyed a career year in 2021, catching 46 passes for 431 yards and two touchdowns and making first-team All-Pro as a kick returner.

Though he never played an official down for the Patriots, Berrios said he’s been able to apply the lessons he learned during his lone season in Foxboro.

“I was still there, I was in the meetings,” said Berrios, who has a Patriots Super Bowl ring. “Honestly, I did most of the scouting reports each week, and I’d give them to all the guys. I tried to help in any way I can. … And honestly, the pure learning experience there is absolutely invaluable.

“That whole year, I learned more about football and obviously got to listen to (Tom) Brady take over a meeting and say, ‘Hey, guys, this is how I look at it.’ And going (from) that to now a rookie quarterback (Zach Wilson), I can start to see what he’s seeing. Everybody says be friendly to the quarterback. When the coverage goes all which ways, I know what he feels is open, and that’s where I’m going to try to show up.”

It remains to be seen whether Berrios will continue his career in New York. He’s set to become an unrestricted free agent in March.

If Belichick still feels as highly about the 26-year-old as he did in 2019, could the Patriots come calling?

Thumbnail photo via Isaiah J. Downing/USA TODAY Sports Images
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