When the NFL Draft came to an end in early May, the New England Patriots did... nothing. While usually among the most active teams during rookie free agency, they decided to sit out the scramble for undrafted talent.
They did not sign their first and only UDFA until four days after the draft was over. The player receiving the honor of essentially being New England’s entire undrafted rookie class this year is place kicker Quinn Nordin, who joined the team after spending his college career at the University of Michigan.
The Patriots were the only club interested in acquiring the 22-year-old, who was already starting to prepare himself for a future outside of football.
“I waited four days,” Nordin said during a press conference after Tuesday’s training camp practice. “I was on LinkedIn looking at jobs. I was thinking of maybe going into the military. The Patriots were my only call, so I’m here. I’m doing the best I can, and that’s it.”
So what was he looking for as an alternative to pro football?
“Honestly, I was literally on LinkedIn typing in, like, ‘What to do after college.’ Anything and everything,” he said.
“I think it was like two days after [the draft], my dad needed the deck power-washed. All my buddies had signed with teams, and I was like, ‘You know what, I could rent this power washer and I could power-wash decks in the neighborhood.’ But I wanted to give it a shot. This is every person’s dream to get a chance to play for the New England Patriots.”
While eight of his former teammates at Michigan heard their names called during the draft — including linebacker Cameron McGrone, who was selected in the fifth round by the Patriots — Nordin remained unaccounted for initially. Just as the dust started to settle, however, New England special teams coordinator Cam Achord reached out to him to let him know that the club was interested.
“I got a text from Coach Cam and he was like, ‘Might have something, not sure.’ And it’s like 10 o’clock at night. I was sitting in a recliner all day on my laptop, calling people, looking for a job,” Nordin recalled.
“I was on a walk with my mom, and my agent called me and told me that, ‘We’re going to get you a contract.’ And I said, ‘I’m not going to believe anything’ until there’s something at my house. Something came to the house, and extremely grateful. But I couldn’t even believe it, because when you want something to happen and it doesn’t happen and you wait and you wait and you wait, you’re just that much more grateful when the opportunity does come.”
Now officially participating in the Patriots’ training camp, Nordin faces an uphill climb to make the roster. After all, veteran Nick Folk was re-signed earlier this year on a contract that guarantees him $1.23 million this season — a sizable number reflective of how the team views his outlook.
Still, Nordin has seen his opportunities. With Folk missing four straight practices for undisclosed reasons, the youngster has taken over as the next place kicker up and performed well.
“Quinn’s improved,” head coach Bill Belichick said about the rookie on Tuesday. “He’s still got a long way to go, but he’s improved. It’s a good opportunity for him to kick inside. Of course, it’s ideal conditions. Can’t get it really much better than that. No wind, turf. We’ll keep challenging him in different situations and see how he responds just like everybody else. No rush.”
Whether or not Nordin will be able to beat out Folk remains to be seen, but he certainly will get additional opportunities to prove that he belongs in the NFL: the Patriots will play their first preseason game of the year later this week, meaning that Nordin will likely get another chance to show that he will not have to return to LinkedIn for quite some time.