ESPN: New England Patriots agree to 3-year, $6M deal with special-teams standout Justin Bethel

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Veteran Justin Bethel, one of the NFL’s premier special-teams players, has agreed to a three-year, $6 million deal with the New England Patriots, according to a source.

Bethel, 30, was scheduled for unrestricted free agency, but his preference was to remain in New England, where he initially signed as a free agent in October 2019.

Bethel led the Patriots with 14 special-teams tackles last season (13 solo). Paired with longtime Pro Bowler Matthew Slater, he formed a 1-2 combination covering punts that contributed to the Patriots’ No. 1 overall ranking in Rick Gosselin’s annual special-teams rankings. Patriots coach Bill Belichick has cited Gosselin’s rankings as a measure he values in the past.

A three-time Pro Bowler, Bethel entered the NFL as a sixth-round draft choice of the Cardinals in 2012 out of Presbyterian. He has played for the Cardinals (2012-2017), Falcons (2018), Ravens (2019) and Patriots.

The Patriots have 21 players scheduled for unrestricted free agency, and Bethel and QB Cam Newton are the first to agree to extensions.

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