The New England Patriots have been hit hard by injuries of late. On Saturday, November 19, the Patriots sent veteran punter and former All-Pro Jake Bailey to injured reserve. The team also sign and elevated veteran Michael Palardy to replace him and to handle punting duties on Sunday in the important AFC East rematch with the New York Jets, per ESPN’s Mike Reiss.
Bailey has been struggling all season and at least some aspect of his poor performance in 2022 can be traced to the ailing back that is landing him on injured reserve.
Patriots’ Jake Bailey Heading to IR Amidst His Struggles
After making the Pro Bowl in 2020 and receiving the All-Pro nod that same season, Bailey has shown a consistent decline. He currently ranks near the bottom in average yards per punt with 42.1 and net punting yards with 35.3. Aside from the injury, it’s probably wise for the Patriots to give another player an opportunity to succeed as the punter.
Palardy is a player the Patriots know pretty well. He has been a part of the team’s practice squad for weeks this season, but he also spent the 2021 campaign with the Miami Dolphins where New England faced him twice.
The six-year veteran is being thrown into the fire as the Patriots are coming off the bye week and heading straight into an intense battle with a division rival seeking revenge. The Patriots defeated the Jets 22-17 in Week 8 and Gang Green seems fired up to even the score.
Palardy figures to have several duties on Sunday. Bailey had been handling kickoffs and he’d also been serving as the holder for Nick Folk on extra points and field goals, On Friday, Bill Belichick reminded the media that Palardy has done those things in the past. With that, it seems very possible he’ll be the punter and holder on Sunday. The forecast for the game is expected to be cold and windy, so the left-footed Palardy will not be debuting in the most pristine weather conditions.
If he punts it well and avoids mishaps with the hold, he will have done his job to help facilitate another season sweep of the Jets. A Patriots win would draw them even in the standings with the Jets at 6-4. Perhaps most importantly, the victory would give New England the edge in the head-to-head tiebreaker that might wind up determining the division winner or playoff eligibility.
Coming off the bye week, there is additional pressure to well considering the stakes on the line.
Does Jake Bailey Still Have a Future With the Patriots?
Beyond this week, you have to wonder about Bailey’s future with the team. The 25-year-old is only in his fourth season in the NFL. Still, if Palardy gives the Patriots the best chance to win, Bailey might not get another opportunity in New England.
Bailey signed a four-year, $23.5 million contract extension with the Patriots in August. The deal guaranteed Bailey $6.5 million. Releasing Bailey could grant the Patriots some cap flexibility, but Belichick may not have given up on the former just yet.