Bill Belichick gets testy with reporters over Jake Bailey suspension questions

This content is not available due to your privacy preferences.
Update your settings here to see it.

Watch: Belichick gets testy over Jake Bailey suspension questions originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

We have ourselves a punter controversy in New England, folks.

The New England Patriots moved Jake Bailey from the reserve/injured list to the reserve/suspended list Friday, making him ineligible to play in the team's season finale. Bailey had missed New England's previous seven games due to injury, but his agent said in a statement that the suspension came as a surprise, and that Bailey had hoped to return in Week 17 against the Miami Dolphins before the team ruled him out for the final two games.

AFC playoff seeding, Wild Card Round matchups set as Patriots lose to Bills

After the Patriots' season-ending loss to the Buffalo Bills on Sunday, ESPN's Mike Reiss and NBC Sports Boston's Phil Perry asked Bill Belichick for his take on the situation.

The Patriots head coach wasn't particularly forthcoming. Here's the full exchange:

This content is not available due to your privacy preferences.
Update your settings here to see it.

Reiss: (Bailey's) agent put out a statement saying that he had hoped to come back, and he was surprised by the suspension. I'm curious if you see it the same way.

Belichick: No.

Reiss: Could you elaborate on how you see it?

Belichick: He wasn't -- he's not eligible to play.

Reiss: His agent said he felt like he was ready, and he was surprised to be told he wasn't. Is that --

Belichick: He was on (the) Designated for Return (list), and he wasn't able to play. The suspension is a whole another thing, but he wasn't able to come back from DFR.

Perry: So he wasn't unavailable because of the suspension is what you're saying?

Belichick: He was unavailable. That's the bottom line.

The Patriots placed Bailey on injured reserve on Nov. 19 but designated him to return on Dec. 21, which meant the team had a 21-day window to activate Bailey to the 53-man roster.

Bailey and his camp clearly felt he was ready to play, but New England declined to activate him in that span and suspended him instead.

The Patriots may have paid the price for that decision Sunday; Bailey also handled kickoff duties for the team when healthy, and more than 60 percent of his kicks in 2022 resulted in touchbacks. But Nick Folk doesn't have the same leg (three touchbacks on 33 kicks), leading to Bills return man Nyheim Hines tacking two of Folk's kickoffs back for touchdowns in Buffalo's 35-23 win.

Bailey is under contract through 2025 but has a potential opt-out after the 2023 season, and it's highly possible he's not with the team past 2023 given how this year played out.