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Nick Folk discusses return to Patriots, why his 'sick mind' enjoys kicking in cold

The weather and opportunity in New England have kept him engaged and always learning something new.

Nick Folk, Jake Bailey

Nick Folk took his afternoon media availability in a small office space Wednesday, with art painted by his brother adding a pop of color to the bright white wall behind him.

The warm-colored sunset and cactus painted on the canvas was a homage to his college days at the University of Arizona, and he was taking the call from his home on a beautiful day in Dallas -- where he was selected in the sixth round of the 2007 NFL Draft by the Cowboys.

When it came to free agency, though, the kicker says he opted for the cold weather in New England over other suiters and signed with the Patriots on a reported two-year deal last week.

"I guess in my own kind of sick mind, I do. It's kind of fun," Folk said when asked if he likes kicking in a cold-weather state.

"There's always something new. I played in a dome when I was in Dallas. I was young, but I think at times in a dome, you can kind of get lulled to sleep a little bit and you can lose a little focus. Where when you're outside in the elements, you really have to focus for the entire three-hour period, plus. I kind of like that in my own weird way. I enjoy being outside, having a little bit of (an) extra element that has to be thought about -- whether that's the weather or the field. I enjoy it."

The unpredictable weather isn't the only part about New England that has offered Folk new challenges. The 37-year-old never anticipated how much he'd learn in just three seasons with the Patriots relative to how long he's been in the league.

All that experience led to him kicking in all 17 regular-season games with a career-high 36 field goals during the 2021 season.

"I've learned a ton in my short time here that I never had imagined I couldn't have learned already, but I've I've learned in the latter part of my career here," Folk said of his chats with Bill Belichick and the emphasis the team puts on special teams.

Folk says that's part of why coming back to the Patriots, the team who signed him out of the since-folded Alliance of American Football in 2019, was so desirable. He kept in touch with Belichick and special teams coordinator Cam Achord through free agency, hoping to be reunited with punter Jake Bailey and long snapper Joe Cardona -- with whom he's developed great relationships.

"Having some comfort in the locker room, comfort in the special teams unit, Jake and Joe there alongside me, I think that's a big, big key," Folk said. "You see some of the guys who have been doing it for a long time at a high level, they've had that continuity for years on end."

Folk now gets to try and continue on this resurgence he's been on, pulling in all the wisdom he's learned along the way. He didn't anticipate getting brought into New England would turn into a multi-year stint, but he's grateful for the outcome.

"I think another big part is having the faith from your coaching staff that you're gonna do what you need to do," Folk said. So it just kind of cumulated here in New England, and I'm enjoying every second of it."

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