New England is without a doubt one of the most talented teams in the NFL, but don't tell that to Bill Belichick, who has spent some serious time over the past 48 hours beefing up the Patriots roster.
Not Mohamed Sanu this week, but they also made an under-the-radar move that should provide an instant improvement to their special teams. The Patriots announced on Wednesday that they've signed Justin Bethel, who surprisingly became a free agent this week after the Ravens decided to cut him.for
The three-time Pro Bowler wasn't expected to be available, and once he hit the open market, the Patriots pounced. Bethel's release from Baltimore came just seven months after he signed a two-year deal with the team.
After the Ravens released him on Monday, coach John Harbaugh admitted it was going to be tough to replace Bethel, who he referred to as the best special teams player in the NFL. Through the first seven weeks of the season, Bethel had racked up a six tackles on special teams, which led all Ravens players.
"That's tough for us because, I told him, I think he's the best special teams player in the NFL," Harbaugh said. "And he's playing that way. So that's going to be a blow, and we're going to have to find a way to overcome that."
If you're wondering why Harbaugh was willing to cut "the best special teams player in the NFL," that's where things get slightly complicated. Bethel's release had nothing to do with the way he was playing and everything to do with gain or lose during the offseason, and after the 2019 offseason, the Ravens were expected to get a pick based on losing Brent Urban to the Titans and John Brown to the Bills. However, the Titans cut Urban this week, and any player cut before Week 10, doesn't count against the compensatory formula.. The formula is based on free agents that you
With Urban no longer counting, the Ravens lost their potential fourth-round pick. For Baltimore, the way to reverse that was to cut Bethel, since he was a free agent they "gained" in March. If your head's spinning at the thought of all this, so was Harbaugh's. The Ravens coach even admitted that Bethel was being cut due to a "funky" rule.
What this all means is that the rich are now getting richer with the Patriots special teams getting a major boost in talent. Bethel has been in the NFL since 2012 when the Cardinals made him a sixth-round pick in the draft. The 29-year-old spent six seasons in Arizona (2012-17) and went to three Pro Bowls with the Cardinals before leaving the desert to sign with the Falcons in 2018. After one year in Atlanta, Bethel signed with the Ravens in March.