Just seven months after signing him to a contract extension, the New England Patriots have parted ways with punter Jake Bailey. The team released the 25-year-old on Friday, per the NFL transactions wire.
Bailey, 25, originally joined the Patriots as a fifth-round selection in the 2019 NFL Draft. The Stanford product beat out incumbent Ryan Allen in his first training camp, and over the next four seasons would appear in a combined 60 regular season and playoff games — earning first-team All-Pro honors and a Pro Bowl nominations after his sophomore campaign.
Bailey showed plenty of promise early on in his career, but was unable to build on it in 2021. Nonetheless, the Patriots signed him to what was effectively a four-year, $13.5 million contract extension in August 2022. The team showed confidence in his ability to return to the All-Pro form he displayed in 2020, but he instead struggled before being sent to injured reserve in mid-November because of a back injury.
Before hurting his back, Bailey averaged just 42.1 yards per punt with a net of 35.2. He ranked 34th and 35th in the NFL in the respective categories to end the 2022 regular season.
Bailey was designated to return from IR in December and was a regular participant in practice over the next two weeks, but eventually was shut down for good. As was later announced, the team had suspended him over an apparent dispute about his readiness to return. A grievance was later filed on Bailey’s behalf.
While the suspension was later lifted and Patriots head coach Bill Belichick expressed his hope that he would return, Bailey’s future with the team was very much in question.
Now, the organization pulled the plug on his tenure in New England.