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Former Patriots punter Jake Bailey sheds light on bizarre 2022 season, events leading up to his release

Bailey was released by the Patriots ahead of free agency and has since signed in Miami.

Carolina Panthers v New England Patriots Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

In what was an underwhelming 2022 season for the New England Patriots, the Jake Bailey saga fit right in: he went from contract extension to cut in just seven months.

Bailey and the Patriots reached an agreement on a new four-year, $13.5 million deal early in training camp to keep him around through 2025. Coming off a so-and-so season, the team showed considerable trust in the fourth-year punter’s ability to bounce back.

However, he could not. Bailey averaged just 42.1 yards per punt with a net of 35.2, finding himself near the bottom of the league in both categories. In mid-November, he was eventually placed on injured reserve because of a back injury.

What came next was a bizarre turn of events.

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. The team later announced that it had suspended him.

What had happened? Bailey and the team had an apparent fallout over his readiness to return to action. This disagreement led to his suspension and a grievance being filed on the punter’s behalf; it also set the stage for his release earlier this month.

Bailey joined the Miami Dolphins soon thereafter, and during a media availability with local reporters on Wednesday shed some light on how his Patriots tenure came to an end.

“You know, there’s a lot to unpack,” he said, via Joe Schad of the Palm Beach Post. “And a lot of it is between them and me, partly. I’ve talked to Coach [Bill] Belichick about this and how, you know, we want to talk about all this stuff. Obviously, you don’t want to end up on a list like that, ever. And, you know, confusion was a lot of it. And I think we’re just past it, now at this point. It was something that happened. And it was something that was unfortunate for both sides. And you know, now I think both parties are in a better situation.”

While the team likely was not pleased with his individual performance to start the season, push came to shove after he was sent to injured reserve. For Bailey, however, the root of the problem lay in his training regimen.

“A lot of it had to do with squatting a ton,” he said. “I did not grow up squatting, loading my back with back squats. I didn’t do it at all in college. I tried to be more a part of the program. And it just really backfired the whole season I was doing it. It really made my accuracy struggle. And it just was kind of a sad, sad thing to have happen. I haven’t squatted since really Week 15 or 16 and feel pretty good.”

The 25-year-old added that the grievance he filed against the team has since been resolved, and that his focus was on his future with the Dolphins. Bailey signed a one-year contract to join the Patriots’ division rivals.

As a result, he also is set to meet his former team twice this season. New England, however, will be just “another team on the schedule” as he pointed out.

“I think part of why people go in and out of the AFC East is you know what you’re getting,” he said. “You know you have a player that can go play up in Foxborough. You have a player that can go play up in Buffalo and the weather’s super bad. You also have a player that can go play down in Miami at the start of September. So, there’s a variety of the different elements.”

Bailey originally joined the Patriots in the fifth round of the 2019 draft. Working as a punter, holder and kickoff specialist, he showed considerable promise as a rookie and by his second season was voted first-team All-Pro.

However, he failed to return to that level of performance over the next two seasons. Now, he is trying to get his career back on track with a different team.