The New England Patriots are making Jake Bailey one of the NFL’s highest-paid punters.
Bailey on Monday agreed to terms on a four-year, $13.5 million contract extension that includes $6.5 million guaranteed, according to a report from ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Here are four thoughts on what the reported extension means for the punter and the Patriots:
1. Even after his effectiveness dipped somewhat in 2021, the Patriots clearly still view Bailey — a first-team All-Pro in 2020 — as one of the league’s best at his position. The average annual value of his new deal is the third-highest of any active punter. Only Seattle’s Michael Dickson and Washington’s Tress Way are making more per season.
Bailey averaged 47.3 yards per punt last season and also has handled kickoffs for the Patriots throughout his three-year NFL career. Some of his 2021 can be blamed on New England’s punt team as a whole, which allowed a league-high three blocked punts.
2. The extension gives the Patriots some additional salary cap relief. While the particulars have yet to be disclosed, ESPN’s Mike Reiss reported it will free up roughly $1.85 million in cap space.
Bailey had been set to carry a hefty $4 million cap hit — the priciest among punters — thanks to a proven performance escalator in his rookie contract, sparking speculation that the Patriots might look for a cheaper option this offseason.
New England, which entered camp with just $1.4 million in available space, also created an extra $1.5 million earlier in the week by extending defensive tackle Davon Godchaux.
3. Sorry, Jake Julien. Barring an injury to Bailey, the undrafted rookie’s odds of winning a 53-man roster spot just fell to zero.
Bailey made a late arrival to training camp after a brief stint on the non-football illness list, but he clearly was the more impressive of the two punters during spring practice, showing off his prodigious leg strength.
With Nick Folk re-upping on a two-year, $5 million contract this offseason, the Patriots are poised to keep their effective punter-kicker-long snapper trio intact for a third consecutive season, assuming Folk can beat out Tristan Vizcaino this summer.
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