In just four days, the New England Patriots will have to trim their roster from 80 to 53 players. Among the men who do not have to worry about surviving cutdown day is punter Jake Bailey. The second-year man, who arrived in New England via the fifth round of last year’s draft, had a strong rookie season — winning AFC Special Teams Player of the Week on two separate occasions, for example — and also established himself as the Patriots’ top kickoff option.
His training camp performance this summer further shows that he is the future at the punter position for the team. That being said, it is still looking at free agency to get up to date in regards to the punter market: according to the Houston Chronicle’s Aaron Wilson, the Patriots will host rookie Alex Kinney for a workout.
Kinney went undrafted earlier this season and did not receive any open interest from an NFL team up until this point. That said, he does bring a solid college résumé to the table: the 23-year-old set a new school record by appearing in 54 games over the course of his five years in Boulder, and averaged 42.1 yards per punt. Of his 258 career attempts, only 12 ended as touchbacks with two more being blocked. Kinney also had 41 punts of more than 50 yards.
Does the Patriots showing interest in him mean anything for Bailey? Highly unlikely. That said, the team does like to regularly update its emergency files to find potential replacements rather quickly in case they are needed. Just think back to the Stephen Gostkowski situation last year: the long-time kicker hurt his hip and had to be placed on season-ending injured reserve; only the third veteran brought aboard — Nick Folk — proved himself capable of filling in for Gostkowski.
Hosting Kinney should therefore not be seen as anything but the club doing its due diligence and assessing the market.