Ahead of the start of this year’s training camp, the New England Patriots decided to place three of their rehabbing players on the physically unable to perform list (PUP): running back Sony Michel, wide receiver Mohamed Sanu, and core special teamer Brandon King. While Michel remains on the list for the time being, Sanu has since been activated. King, meanwhile, has also seen his designation get changed.
According to the NFL’s transaction wire, the Patriots moved him from their Active/PUP list to Reserve/PUP on Tuesday. This change in status means that the 27-year-old will now no longer count against New England’s 80-man roster — leaving the team with two open spots — and also that he will have to sit out at least the first six weeks of the regular season before being eligible for reactivation.
King finds himself in this situation because of a season-ending quad injury that he suffered during the Patriots’ third preseason contest last August. The issue eventually forced the club to move him to injured reserve, and will now cost him time in 2020 as well.
Since arriving in New England as an undrafted rookie free agent four years ago, King has consistently proven his value in the kicking game and was expected to return in a prominent role this year — especially in light of Nate Ebner’s free agency departure and Brandon Bolden’s opt-out. Now, however, the outlook has changed. In turn, another special teamer will get a chance to make the Patriots’ opening day 53-man squad.
King himself has appeared in a combined 57 regular season contests and 11 playoff games for the team since first appearing on its active roster in October 2015 — helping the Patriots win two Super Bowls while simultaneously serving as a core member of their kicking game units. In this role, he regularly found himself among the team leaders in special teams tackles while appearing on both kick and punt coverage as well as the two return teams.
Despite being listed as a linebacker on New England’s official roster, King has yet to see any playing time on defense outside of the preseason.