The Patriots got a second jump on free agency on Friday, reportedly re-signing special teams ace Justin Bethel to a three-year deal worth $6 million according to ESPN's Mike Reiss. Bethel was set to hit unrestricted free agency next week, as New England made an early move to retain the 30-year old.
After reports broke that the team would be bringing back Cam Newton, the news about Bethel will likely be lost in the flood of Newton takes, but it's a solid move for a team that values special teams like nobody else in the NFL and gives them some long-term stability behind veteran captain Matthew Slater.
Poached from Baltimore midway through the 2019 season after the Ravens released him, Bethel recovered two muffed punts in his first season in New England. He played every game in 2020, tying for third in the league with 14 special teams tackles.