The New England Patriots had only one practice over the weekend, but the team was busy nonetheless. Not only did the Patriots make four personnel transactions on the backend of their 80-man roster, they also had a pair of players in for free agency workouts: kicker Nick Folk and defensive tackle Michael Barnett. As was announced by the club on Monday, those two players were now officially signed to contracts to fill out the roster.
K Nick Folk
Folk originally entered the league as a sixth-round draft pick by the Dallas Cowboys in 2007 and was voted to the Pro Bowl in his rookie season. He was let go again in 2010, however, and went on to join the New York Jets with whom he spent a combined six seasons. He joined the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2017, but ended his season prematurely due to injury before spending 2018 out of football. A stint in the short-lived AAF was finally followed by the Patriots picking him up as a free agent midway through last season.
One of three kickers brought in to help replace an injured Stephen Gostkowski, Folk appeared in eight games for the Patriots and made 16 of 19 field goal attempts as well as all 13 of his extra point attempts — ending the year as New England’s place kicker. Following the season, however, the team decided not to retain the 35-year-old and instead invested a fifth-round draft pick in Marshall’s Justin Rohrwasser. With the rookie struggling early in his first NFL training camp, however, the team decided to bring Folk back into the mix.
DT Michael Barnett
Michael Barnett went undrafted earlier this year after appearing in 46 career games at the University of Georgia. The 6-foot-4, 304-pound defensive tackle finished his tenure in the SEC with 47 combined tackles, including an assisted tackle for loss, as well as two batted passes. A redshirt senior, Barnett started six games for head coach Kirby Smart’s Bulldogs in 2019 while recording 23 stops along with three quarterback pressures — his most productive collegiate career.
Barnett is not the only defensive tackle signed by the Patriots recently: New England also added veteran Xavier Williams on Saturday to bolster the depth behind Lawrence Guy and Adam Butler — especially with free agency acquisition Beau Allen not yet having been spotted during a training camp practice going all the way back to the first full-team session almost two weeks ago. Barnett will compete against Williams as well as Byron Cowart, Nick Thurman and Bill Murray in order to make the team.