If there ever was a draft prospect that had "New England Patriots" written all over him, it was Joe Cardona, who spent his college career as a long snapper at the Naval Academy. The Patriots picked the 23-year old in the fifth round, making him only the fourth long snapper to hear his name called on draft day.
Due to his service commitment, neither the team nor the player knew if Cardona would have been available to play right away, something the structure of his incentive-laden rookie contract reflects. The Navy ultimately granted a one-year deferment, which meant that Cardona would be able to play for the Patriots during the 2015 season.
With New England’s season over, Cardona now heads back to the Navy.
As part of his service commitment, the Patriots’ long snapper will soon report to the Norfolk, Virginia Naval Base for more schooling before moving to Bath, Maine to serve on the USS Zumwalt. If everything goes according to plan, Cardona should be back with the Patriots as soon as mandatory offseason workouts begin.
According to the Boston Globe, it is likely that Cardona returns to the Patriots with a similar arrangement that he, the franchise and the Navy had in 2015: one day per week during his time in Foxboro, the long snapper works at the Naval Academy Prep School in Newport, Rhode Island.
Thank you for your service, Joe.