Before the New England Patriots' took the practice field for their first padded practice of the summer on Monday, they handled some off the field duties. ESPN's Adam Schefter reported the team agreed on a contract extension for punter Jake Bailey, keeping him in New England through 2025.
“I’m just so happy and blessed I get a few more years here,” Bailey told reporters after practice. “I was just kind of on the phone with my agent and I was like, ‘Alright, that’s it. We’re good with that,’ and it wasn’t like a crazy big moment. But it was fine and a huge milestone in my life and just thankful God put me in this position.”
A fifth-round pick by New England in 2019, Bailey has proven to be one of the best punters the league has. Bailey's strong 2020 season — in which he led the league with a 48.7-yard punt average — earned him Pro Bowl and All-Pro honors. As the All-Pro honors increased his 2022 salary, and the team brought in undrafted rookie punter Jake Julien this offseason, there was perhaps some uncertainty with Bailey in the last year of his rookie contract.
“Anytime there’s uncertainty, you know, it’s just always some in the back of your head, but at our position, you have to be able to just compartmentalize and go out on the field and execute,” Bailey said. “And if you’re not able to do that with whatever is distracting you you’re not going to play for very long.”
When asked why New England has been such a good fit for him, Bailey mentioned the community, Coach Belichick, and of course his teammates — specifically kicker Nick Folk and long snapper Joe Cardona.
“[Nick]’s up there with every single guy on special teams that I rely on, him and Joe [Cardona] I probably rely on the most, you know, they’re my guys each and every play,” he said. “[Matthew] Slater too and Justin [Bethel], you know without those guys, I don’t know if I’d be in the position I’m in today and I’m just so thankful to them that they’ve worked hard and put me in this position.”
After cycling through several kickers in Bailey's rookie year, he has built a strong on-field connection with Folk over the past two-and-a-half to three years.
“Nick’s just a savvy, wise old guy. You know, anytime I have a question, I’ll bounce it off for him," Bailey said. "The pre-shot, it’s like having a caddy back there, the pre-shot little three things he says to me and it always keeps me in a good mental space and what he brings to my game is invaluable. I’m a way better punter, kickoff guy, holder with him in my corner.”
Bailey will now turn his attention to on the field, where he's happy to continue wearing a Patriots' uniform.
“This is always the first option,” Bailey said. “You want to stay with what you know and what's comfortable to you. I'm so happy this is what worked out.”