The New England Patriots’ front office continues its busy two-day stretch. After reports from earlier today that the team made four practice squad transactions, it has reportedly also filled the previously open spot on its active 53-man roster: the Patriots decided to re-sign running back and punt returner Kenjon Barner – marking the third time that the veteran signed a contract in New England over the last month.
Barner, who spent the majority of his first five years in the NFL with the Carolina Panthers and Philadelphia Eagles, first joined the Patriots on September 11. Filling the roster spot created by Jeremy Hill tearing his ACL, the Oregon product failed to stick around and after just one week with – and without appearing in a game – he was let go again. It did not take him long to return to New England, though.
After running back Rex Burkhead joined Hill on the injured reserve list, Barner was again brought on board to fill the newly created roster spot. This time, he even saw playing time an registered three carries for 11 yards during the Patriots’ blowout win over the Miami Dolphins. However, he still did not do enough to be kept around: with Julian Edelman returning from a four-game suspension, Barner was again the odd man out.
Now, he is back again to fill the open roster spot created by the release of former second-round draft pick Cyrus Jones. Like Jones, Barner has experience running back kicks. Playing for the Eagles in 2017, he returned 27 punts for an average of 8.9 yards as well as 10 kickoffs for an average of 19.4 yards. He also muffed three punts. His offensive output, meanwhile, was rather limited: Barner registered just 21 touches for 113 yards and a touchdown.
Back in New England, Barner will likely fill the same role he held during his first two stints with the team: he will be a backup option at running back to provide depth behind Sony Michel and James White. Furthermore, he provides the Patriots with an additional body to run back punts and kickoffs.
As mentioned above, the Patriots recently parted ways with Cyrus Jones: the cornerback and punt returner was let go on Saturday after being a healthy scratch during the Patriots’ Thursday night game against the Indianapolis Colts. Jones was a candidate to re-join the team via its practice squad but instead has found a new albeit familiar home. The Baltimore Ravens successfully claimed the 24-year old on waivers.
Jones originally joined the Patriots as a second-round draft pick in 2016. After struggling mightily early on during his rookie season on both defense and special teams, and effectively being redshirted afterwards, the Alabama product appeared to be on his way to bounce back one year later. However, he tore his ACL in the preseason and was subsequently placed on season-ending injured reserve.
After getting released during 2018’s roster cuts, Jones was added to the Ravens’ practice squad. Two weeks later, New England added him to its active roster again: Jones appeared in two games for the team as a depth defender and punt returner. He looked solid – returning five kicks for 45 yards – but failed to hold onto the job after Julian Edelman was activated to the 53-man roster. His release was therefore no surprise.