The 2022 season ended early for the Patriots, as they missed the playoffs for the second time in three years, which was odd enough for most fans to digest. But just two days before the last game of the season, a shocking announcement was made regarding the suspension of two players, including punter Jake Bailey.
The original report only revealed that the team moved Bailey and Jack Jones to the reserve/suspended list, apparently taking place a week prior on December 31st.
The early details about Bailey’s suspension surrounded his readiness to return to the field. He had been dealing with a back injury throughout the season, landing him on injured reserve on November 19th. He was designated to return on December 21st, but Bill Belichick revealed not long after that he would be placed on IR again, ending his season.
The following day, Bailey’s agent released a statement expressing their confusion about the suspension and announcing he would be filing a grievance over the lost wages.
Since that statement, no updates about the situation have been revealed until just last week.
It was evident upon reading that a grievance would be filed that Bailey would not be returning to the team. That eventually came to fruition earlier this month when the Patriots released the one-time All-Pro on March 10th. It was another chapter added to the disaster that was the 2019 draft class, especially since Bailey had just signed a four-year extension before the start of the season.
A week later, he moved on to an AFC East rival, the Dolphins, signing a one-year contract. And a week after that, Ben Volin of the Boston Globe revealed Bailey had dropped his grievance against his former team, relieving the Patriots of owing him any money and his ability to hit free agency early.
A win/win situation, maybe?
We finally heard from Bailey himself last week when he was introduced as the newest member of the Dolphins team.
Of course, the hottest topic was his divorce from the Patriots, and he was asked immediately about the reasons resulting in his suspension.
"“You know, there’s a lot to unpack. 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.”"
It was clear the 2022 season was not his best, and he was likely dealing with an injury long before being placed on injured reserve. When asked about what led to his struggles and injury, Bailey discussed a change in his training regimen as the cause.
"“A lot of it had to do with squatting a ton. 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.”"
Although he mainly remained mum about his feelings toward his old team, he did mention the grievance was a thing of the past and that he was looking forward to the season ahead.
"“The grievance is done. But everything surrounding it is in the past. I’m totally on a new team now and just looking forward to seeing how I can contribute.”"
The Patriots are still looking for Bailey’s replacement and made their first attempt at doing so by signing Corliss Waitman from the Broncos last week.
Hopefully, they can find the right guy to replace what they had in Bailey before last season because the punting unit in 2022 was a complete disaster.