The Patriots signed Georgia DL Michael Barnett on Tuesday and it’ll end up working out for them, of course.
With the New England Patriots smack in the middle of training camp, they currently have 80 players under contract, which give numerous players an opportunity to impress and potentially lock down a spot on the active roster before regular season cuts arrive in the first week of September.
This is a huge luxury for the Patriots, who will need some rookies, both drafted and undrafted, to step up following their lengthy list of offseason departures and opt outs. One player who fits that bill is defensive lineman Michael Barnett, who signed with the team this week after exceeding expectations during his tryout.
You might think that less than three weeks isn’t enough time for a young rookie to impress the Patriots, but the 23-year-old has a few variables working in his favor. The most notable is that he played college ball at Georgia, a program that head coach Bill Belichick admires.
Let’s remember that New England has a track record for not only rostering former Bulldogs, but giving them prominent roles on the team. During the 2018 NFL Draft, Belichick selected former Georgia stars Isaiah Wynn and Sony Michel in the first round. He also signed center David Andrews as a free agent back in 2015.
It’s obviously going to take a lot more from Barnett to prove his worth than just coming from a favorite program of the legendary head coach, and he’s fully aware of that. Not only is the UGA product motivated to earn a roster spot, but the Patriots just so happen to be in the market for a physically-gifted interior lineman.
It’s not like teams weren’t interested in taking a flyer on Barnett, either. The reason he waited so long to sign with an NFL team was mostly due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which saw his Pro Day at Georgia canceled.
Had the Bulldogs’ not been forced to cancel, it’s possible that the Patriots attended, liked what they saw, and used a late-round selection on him in April. Furthermore, health and safety protocols prevented organizations from bringing in unsigned/undrafted free agents for workouts until the last couple of weeks.
The Patriots need a two-gap nose tackle in the worst way, so don’t be surprised if Barnett makes the final roster and carves out a role as a rotational guy on the defensive line this season.