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New England Patriots

(Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

For all the Patriots struggles in 2020, they had arguably the best special teams unit – and specifically punt team – in the NFL. On Friday, the Patriots locked up a key member of that group with a long-term contract.

As first reported by Mike Reiss, the Patriots and pending free agent Justin Bethel have agreed on a new three-year, $6 million contract. The 31-year-old Bethel plays a number of roles on special teams, most notably as Matthew Slater’s opposite gunner on punt coverage.

Bethel, a two-time first-team All-Pro, has been with the Patriots since the middle of the 2019 season. He played in all 16 games last year, and was on the field for 84 percent of the team’s special teams plays.

There’s still a number of other key special teams players from last year’s squad set to become free agents next week. That list includes Cody Davis, Terrence Brooks, and kicker Nick Folk.

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Alex Barth is a writer and digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Looking for a podcast guest? Let him know on Twitter @RealAlexBarth or via email at abarth@985TheSportsHub.com.