The Dolphins bolstered the special teams unit last week with the signing of punter Jake Bailey. Entering the league with the New England Patriots, by way of Stanford, Bailey enters Year 5 of his pro career with an impressive resume.
Here are five things to know about new Dolphins punter, Jake Bailey.
1. All-Pro in 2020
The Dolphins now roster both 2020 first-team All-Pros from the kicking department in Jake Bailey and Jason Sanders. Bailey earned the distinction as the top punter in the NFL by hammering an average punt of 48.7 yards, and a net of 45.6 that season. At the time, it was the best net average in an NFL season since Johnny Hekker's 46.0 net yards per punt in 2016.
2. Backing Up The Opposition
Since 2019, Patriots opponents' average starting field position following a punt is the minus 21-yard-line. No punting unit set their defense up with better starting field position over that period, a span in which Bailey punted in all but eight games.
Bailey's 18.2 percent rate of pinning punts inside the 10-yard-line ranks second behind only Kansas City's Tommy Townsend since 2019. He's third in downing opponents inside the 20 (45.3 percent) over that same stretch.
3. Former Fifth-Round Selection
Punters do not typically hear their names called until very late in the NFL Draft. Those that are chosen earlier than the sixth round are the exception. Selected No. 163 overall by the Patriots in 2019, Bailey is the fourth-highest punter drafted since he entered the league four years ago.
Being among the top punters in a given draft cycle typically comes with an invite to the NFL Scouting Combine, an event that allowed Bailey to show off his athleticism. He ran a 4.72 40-yard dash with a 33-inch vertical, 117-inch broad jump and an impressive 16 bench press reps of 225 pounds.
4. Emergency Kicker Option?
No team ever wants to encounter a situation where the active kicker is unable to line up for field goals. Should the Dolphins find themselves in that predicament in the future, Bailey is a viable candidate. As a high school place kicker, Bailey drilled three kicks of 50-plus yards during his time at Santa Fe Christian High School in California. A multi-sport athlete, Bailey also holds his high school's record for the long jump at 21-feet, four inches.
5. Plenty of Hangtime
Hangtime, for a punter, refers to the amount of elapsed time from the moment the ball strikes the punter's foot, to when it's caught by the return man. With a career average return against of just 4.24 yards per punt, Bailey specializes it booting the football towards the heavens.
However, he finds hangtime away from the football field, too. Bailey is pursuing his pilot's license. He described the feeling of being behind the controls of an aircraft in a 2016 story on SFGate.com.
"The machine wants to fly, so if you just help it get there, it will get off the ground," Bailey said. "The scariest part was punching the throttle all the way down and having this thing go from zero to 80 in, like, three seconds'' on the takeoff. "When you pull away from Earth, there's no feeling like it."
For more analysis on Jake Bailey and the rest of the Dolphins 2023 free agent class, download the Drive Time Podcast with Travis Wingfield.