Justin Bethel, a three-time Pro Bowler who has been used almost exclusively on special teams the last few seasons, was signed by the Patriots on Tuesday, according to multiple reports.
The 29-year-old Bethel, a 6-foot, 200-pounder, played seven seasons with the Cardinals before signing with the Ravens this past offseason. With Baltimore this season, he played just 14 defensive snaps, but 159 snaps on special teams — 80 percent of the action to this point in the season.
The Ravens reportedly released Bethel in hopes of recouping a compensatory fourth-round pick, according to coach John Harbaugh.
“Justin Bethel unfortunately had to be released because of a funky rule that the NFL has with these compensatory picks,” Harbaugh said in his news conference Monday. “A judgment has to be made for the future, as well.”
“I told him, I think he’s the best special teams player in the NFL, and he’s playing that way,” Harbaugh said. “So that’s going to be a blow, and we’re going to have to find a way to overcome that.”
The Patriots reportedly released Jordan Richards to make room for Bethel.