Patriots

Stephen Gostkowski has made progress on new deal with Patriots

Stephen Gostkowski has made progress on new deal with Patriots

The only free agent of major consequence the Patriots still have dangling is kicker Stephen Gostkowski. And we've now got some clarity on his situation.

Gostkowski, 35, is not retiring. And while there has been outside interest, he and the Patriots have made progress toward getting him a new deal.

Gostkowski has never been an unrestricted free agent. He was given the franchise tag by the Pats in 2015 and then signed a four-year extension later that same year worth $17.2 million

Selected by the Pats in the fourth round of the 2006 draft as a replacement for Adam Vinatieri, Gostkowski is the Patriots' all-time leading scorer. His 41-yard field goal with less than two minutes to play clinched the Pats' 13-3 victory over the Rams in Super Bowl 53.

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Punter Jake Bailey a rarity for a Bill Belichick coached team

Punter Jake Bailey a rarity for a Bill Belichick coached team

Bill Belichick is entering his 20th season with the New England Patriots, but he has had some notable firsts this year. In the 2019 NFL Draft, the Patriots picked wide receiver N'Keal Harry in the first round. That was the first time Belichick had selected a receiver in the first round during his time with the Patriots.

On Monday, the team released veteran punter Ryan Allen signifying that rookie fifth-round pick Jake Bailey had won the punter battle. Barring a surprise, Bailey will be the team's punter to start the season. And per Ben Volin of The Boston Globe, Bailey will be the first full-time right-footed punter that Belichick has employed in 20 seasons.

Though Belichick did have a couple of fill-in righties at punter as Volin mentioned, this is frankly remarkable. But evidently, having a left-footed punter was something that Belichick placed value on.

Since 1999, Belichick has had six lefty punters on the roster. They were Allen, Zoltan Mesko, Chris Hanson, Josh Miller, Ken Walter, and Lee Johnson. The only righties were the aforementioned Brooks Barnard and Todd Sauerbrun, who combined to launch 20 total punts with the Patriots. Comparatively, the lefties during the Belichick era have launched 1,322 total punts.

Bailey will be something new and different for the Patriots, but it seems that he has the skills needed to succeed. He averaged 43.8 yards per punt during his college days at safety, so he should have a chance to seamlessly replace Allen.

Report: Patriots tried to claim punter Johnny Townsend off waivers>>>

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Report: Patriots tried to claim punter Johnny Townsend off waivers

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USA TODAY Sports photo

Report: Patriots tried to claim punter Johnny Townsend off waivers

The Patriots made the decision on Monday to part ways with Ryan Allen and move forward with rookie Jake Bailey at punter. But did they have a different plan in mind just last week?

New England reportedly tried to claim punter Johnny Townsend off waivers before the 24-year-old was awarded to the Giants, according to NJ.com. New York had a higher waiver priority due to its 2018 record (5-11) being worse than the Patriots' (11-5).

Like Bailey, Townsend is a fifth-round draft pick. The Florida product was selected by the Raiders at No. 173 overall in 2018.

Cutting Allen and failing to claim Townsend means Bailey is the go-to guy in 2019 barring any surprises. The 22-year-old has wowed throughout training camp with his huge leg and useful ability to also be used on kickoffs.

Last season with the Raiders, Townsend averaged 38.3 net yards on 70 punts. He'll compete with Riley Dixon for the Giants' punting job.

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