Finally, the New England Patriots have a free-agent story to report that isn’t about the latest guy to walk out of Foxboro. On Tuesday night, just hours after learning Tom Brady would be leaving the franchise, news broke across several outlets, the Pats signed Damiere Byrd to a one-year deal. The 27-year-old stands 5’9″ and he spent the first four years of his NFL career with the Carolina Panthers and Arizona Cardinals.
Byrd’s Career & Highlights
Byrd broke in as a rookie with the Panthers in 2016, appearing in just one game. He spent the next two seasons in Carolina but only playing in a total of 16 games during that time with just 11 receptions, but he did have some experience as a return man.
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In 2019, Byrd had a breakout season with the Cardinals. He had a career-high 32 receptions with one TD in 11 games. Byrd’s calling card is his speed. He ran a 4.28 40-yard dash at his Pro Day out of South Carolina.
Here is a look at Byrd putting that game-breaking speed to use in the return game with the Panthers:
Byrd is also the receiver who made this memorable cheeky catch while with the Panthers:
Byrd’s Fit With the Patriots
In addition to likely serving as a punt returner, Byrd figures to play in the slot to provide a new-look Patriots offense some firepower. Byrd’s speed is intriguing, but it’s going to be interesting to see what the team’s offense looks like in the long run.
No one will know that for sure until the team’s quarterback situation is determined.
Who Will Be Throwing the Ball to Byrd?
There is a chance last year’s backup QB Jarrett Stidham could be given a chance to lead the Patriots’ next chapter. He’s unproven but has had the opportunity to learn under Brady and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. There are also several fluid free-agent situations. The Panthers are said to be exploring a trade that would send Cam Newton elsewhere. They have agreed to a 3-year, $60 million deal for Teddy Bridgewater.
There’s also a possibility of a trade for someone like the Cincinnati Bengals’ Andy Dalton. They are expected to draft Joe Burrow No. 1 overall in the NFL Draft. There is also the possibility of making a move to acquire the Las Vegas Raiders’ Derek Carr. He is almost certainly available after the Raiders agreed to terms with former Tennessee Titans QB Marcus Mariota.
Despite the uncertainty, Byrd knew enough to know that he wanted to be with the Patriots on a short-term deal that will allow him to prove himself and perhaps command an even bigger contract heading into the 2021 season.