His career with the New England Patriots did not work out as he or the team would have hoped, but Jake Burt has found a new home north of the border. The ex-Patriot was selected first overall in the Canadian Football League Draft by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on Tuesday, becoming only the second tight end ever drafted with the number one pick in CFL history.
Burt originally arrived in New England last April as an undrafted rookie free agent. Despite the team facing some major issues at the tight end position, the Boston College product failed to carve out a spot on the 53-man roster and was released on cutdown day. He eventually rejoined the Patriots via their practice squad and with the exception of two separate stints on injured reserve spent the rest of his rookie season there.
After the 2020 campaign, however, Burt was not retained by the team. Even though the Patriots did sign 11 of their former practice squad members to reserve/future contracts in January, he was not among them. Together with offensive linemen Caleb Benenoch and Jordan Steckler as well as defensive tackle Isaiah Mack he entered unrestricted free agency.
“It’s a business, I don’t know the reasons exactly why, they don’t call you and tell you,” Burt recently told 3 Down Nation. “For whatever reason they chose not to bring me back, it wasn’t a cut, it just wasn’t a re-signing. It was their decision, I respect that decision, I’m a professional and I can accept it.”
Instead of trying to prepare for another possible opportunity coming his way in the NFL, Burt set his sights on the CFL. The move makes sense: Burt was born in Regina and moved to Boston when he was three years old.
“The free agent market hasn’t been hot for me. Right now the CFL is the one that’s calling my name. My whole extended family still lives in Canada. I get to go experience a different country, and go play football there. I’m here to play pro football, this is what I do for a living.”
Now, Burt will get a chance to continue his career with the Tiger-Cats.
In Hamilton, he will also get to share a locker room with another former Patriot: Ja’Gared Davis. A linebacker who played exclusively on special teams in the NFL, Davis appeared in four regular season games and two playoff contests for New England during the 2013 and 2014 seasons. He later spent time in Kansas City and Washington before taking his talents to Canada and spending time with the Calgary Stampeders and, since 2019, the Tiger-Cats.
As for Burt, he has positive memories from his time with the Patriots and the NFL despite the unceremonious departure from his home town team.
“I’ll never forget and it’s an experience I’ll always be grateful for being coached by Coach [Bill] Belichick. He’s brilliant, he’s the best football mind I’ve ever been around. Just the way he approaches coaching is truly an experience,” he said. “Studying the way he approaches every day, let alone practice or games. Listening to him talk and his depth of understanding of the game of football is remarkable. It was truly a privilege to play under him.”
Belichick’s football acumen was not the only thing that caught Burt’s attention, though.
“I thought Coach Belichick has a great sense of humor.”
The CFL will kick off its new season on August 5. Last year’s had to be canceled due to the Coronavirus pandemic.