Not even a year after the New England Patriots signed punter Jake Bailey to a sizeable contract extension, they have parted ways with the kicking specialist.
The Patriots, who handed Bailey a four-year, $13.5 million deal to make him the highest-paid punter in the NFL, released him Friday after four seasons with the team.
Bailey’s tenure with the Patriots came to a tumultuous ending, as he played in only nine games this past season due to a back injury. He was designated to return from injured reserve and started practicing on Dec. 21 but was never activated to the 53-man roster.
To make matters even worse, Bailey was suspended for the final two games of the season, reportedly for “differing viewpoints on if Bailey was ready to return to game action.” The 25-year-old ended up filing a grievance to fight the suspension.
Bailey was a fifth-round draft pick by New England in 2019 out of Stanford and earned All-Pro honors in 2020. He played in 58 consecutive games until going out with the back injury, but he completely regressed in 2022. Before being put on injured reserve, he ranked last in the NFL in yards per punt and net punting average.
With Bailey out, the Patriots turned toward veteran Michael Palardy to handle punting duties in eight games.
By releasing Bailey, the Patriots currently have no punters under contract for the 2023 season.