One day after placing defensive tackle Christian Barmore on the injured reserve list, the New England Patriots sent another player there. Punter Jake Bailey, who is dealing with a back injury, was moved to IR on Saturday.
In his place, practice squad punter Michael Palardy will take over; the Patriots signed him to the 53-man roster to fill the spot vacated by Bailey’s move to injured reserve. What exactly does the transaction mean, though, beyond the personnel component? Let’s find out.
Bailey will miss at least four games. Per NFL rules, players sent to IR will have to sit out at least four contests. In Bailey’s case that means that he will definitively miss the Patriots’ games against the New York Jets on Sunday, as well as the subsequent matchups with the Minnesota Vikings, Buffalo Bills and Arizona Cardinals. His earliest possible return is Week 16 versus the Las Vegas Raiders.
New England will go lefty for the first time since 2018. A former rookie free agent who is on his ninth NFL team, Palardy is different from Bailey not just due to his journeyman background. The 30-year-old also is a left-footed punter, compared to his right-footed predecessor.
The Patriots, of course, have never shied away from using a lefty: Bailey is the exception not the norm under head coach Bill Belichick. Nonetheless, Palardy is now the first left-footed punter in New England since 2018. He is following the footsteps of Ryan Allen, who spent six years with the organization and won three Super Bowls.
The Patriots need a new holder and kickoff specialist. Sending Bailey to IR means that the Patriots will not just have to replace their punter but also two other spots in the special teams operation: he also served as holder on field goals and extra point tries, as well as the team’s kickoff specialist.
Palardy will likely take over the holder role; it traditionally belongs to the punter in New England. The kickoff job, however, appears to be up for grabs. Palardy has kicked off only seven times over the course of his NFL career, but the Patriots might be reluctant to use Nick Folk in that capacity as not to overwork his 38-year-old right leg.
Only two players from the 2019 draft remain on the Patriots’ active roster for now. With Bailey off to injured reserve, the number of 2019 draft picks on the New England roster is now down to two: running back Damien Harris and offensive tackle Yodny Cajuste, both of whom were picked in Round 3, are the lone men left standing.
Of course, Bailey re-joining them further down the line is entirely possible. Speaking of which...
IR return spots might be getting sparse. The NFL made a change to its injured reserve procedure this offseason, limiting the return spots to eight per team. New England already used two of those on the aforementioned Yodny Cajuste as well as rookie wide receiver Tyquan Thornton. With Bailey and Christian Barmore possibly (or: ideally) taking two more, only four would remain for the rest of the season.
This means that not all three of Brian Hoyer, Marcus Cannon or Chasen Hines might be brought back: all of them are eligible to be reactivated at one point, but the team might decide against doing that given the circumstances.