In the fifth round if this year’s draft, the New England Patriots invested in one of the most intriguing specialists available: with the 163rd overall selection the club picked Stanford’s Jake Bailey a high-upside punter that also had plenty of experience as a kickoff specialist. Bringing Bailey in meant that incumbent Ryan Allen had to fight for his job for the second year in a row, and this time he was apparently not successful.
As first reported by the Boston Globe’s Jim McBride, the Patriots have decided to release Allen. This means that the competition is over and that Bailey will serve as New England’s punter moving forward — a decision that is not exactly that big of a surprise. After all, Bailey looked terrific during training camp as his strong leg and the resulting hang-time was in display time and again. Allen, meanwhile, had a hard time keeping up with the rookie.
New England originally added Allen in 2013, when it signed him as an undrafted free agent out of Louisiana Tech. Going against incumbent Zoltan Mesko, the rookie was able to win the job — and he went on to become one of the most successful punters the league had ever seen. During his six years in New England, Allen earned three championship rings and became one of the most reliable albeit unspectacular punters in all of football.
His best performance might just have come in his final game with the Patriots. Allen, who had fended off rookie Corey Bojorquez during the summer, was solid all 2018 long but took his game to another level on the game’s biggest stage: all in all, he punted the football five times for a net average of 40.6 yards, consistently helping the Patriots win the field position battle during the lowest scoring Super Bowl of all time.
After the season, the Patriots re-signed Allen to a one-year, $1.5 million contract. However, the addition of Bailey and the rookie’s strong performance during training camp and the preseason — let alone his versatility to also perform kickoffs — sealed the 29-year-old’s fate. However, he leaves New England as the most successful punter in franchise history. Not bad for a former draft-day afterthought.