DO YOUR JOB
An Account of the 2022 New England Patriots Season
Jake Bailey is having an unconventionally below-average year after inking a record deal. PIC: Dave Silverman/New England Patriots
This offseason, Jake Bailey signed a rare deal for a punter - a four-year, $13.5 million contract - to make him one of the highest-paid players to ever play his position. After all, it was worth it at the time; Bailey was quickly becoming one of the best punters in the NFL. His nod to both the Pro Bowl and the All-Pro team in 2020 was significant for the Pats, who had needed some stability at the punter position after Ryan Allen was released.
Bailey had three dynamite years in the start to his career. He was called upon quite a bit in his rookie season with New England in 2019; his 81 punts amounted to over 45 yards-per-punt, laying the foundation for some good years. Bailey's 2020 performance of 49 yards-per-punt was among the league's best.
In 2022, though, he's sharply declined from what he once was. His average of 42 yards-per-punt is his career low.
“It's been good, and then it hasn’t been consistent,” Bill Belichick recently told the media. “It's not like it’s all bad...not like it’s all good. It’s just inconsistent, so I think there’s a number of areas we can improve in."
Now, on Sunday, the Pats might be without their struggling punter. He's listed as doubtful with a lingering back injury.
In the spirit of "Do Your Job," the next man up in the punting room is 30-year-old veteran Michael Palardy, who - if he plays - will suit up for his ninth NFL squad. Belichick noted his football intel, having been a high school quarterback.
The Pats have an established history of taking their trusted punters and relegating them to a lower-string or off the roster entirely. They've done it with Zoltan Mesko & Ryan Allen over the past decade. I'm not necessarily saying Jake Bailey's fate is heading that direction, but one thing is for sure - Belichick will tab whoever he's the most confident in...no matter how much money they're slated to make.Previous E