The Jake Bailey era in New England is over.
The Patriots released the one-time All-Pro punter Friday afternoon, less than a year after signing him to a four-year, $13.5 million contract extension.
Linebacker Raekwon McMillan, however, will be sticking around after agreeing to terms on a new deal, a league source confirmed.
It’s been a precipitous fall for Bailey, who averaged 48.7 yards per punt (45.6 net) just two seasons ago when he earned first-team All-Pro honors.
Bailey, who also handed kickoff and holding chores for the Patriots, was limited to nine games in 2022 because of back woes, averaging a career-low 35.1 net yards on 37 punts.
Bailey, 25, was placed on injured reserve in November with a back injury and was designated to return Dec. 21.
He did not return and was subsequently suspended by the team for the final two games of the season. Bailey filed a grievance over the suspension and that still needs to be worked out.
At the crux of the disagreement is differing opinions on whether Bailey was fit to return to active duty.
“While Jake Bailey was on IR he never missed a single treatment, meeting or practice,’’ Bailey’s agent, Doug Hendrickson said in a statement shortly after the suspension was announced. “He was hoping to come off IR to play last weekend, but Jake was informed he was being suspended these last two games. This comes as a surprise given his full participation during injury reserve. We have filed a grievance to fight this unknown suspension.”
At his season ending meeting with reporters, coach Bill Belichick expressed hope that Bailey still had a “future” with the team.
“At least that’s how I feel at this point,’’ he said Jan. 9.
In all, Bailey played in 58 regular-season games, punting 222 times for a 45.9-yard average and 102 punts inside the 20-yard line.
McMillan signed with the Patriots in 2021 but missed the season after tearing his ACL during training camp.
In 2022, he finished with 35 tackles and a sack as part of the linebacker rotation. His most memorable play came against the Cardinals when he returned a fumble for touchdown in a 27-13 Patriots win. McMillan was also a core special teamer, accumulating 277 snaps on the coverage units.