New England Patriots

New England Patriots

New England Patriots

Jalen Hurd fights for yardage at Levi's Stadium on August 10, 2019 in Santa Clara, California.

It took until the night before, but it will be a full house for Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots when training camp officially opens on Tuesday morning, with the team’s 90th and final roster spot filled Monday evening.

New England’s final pre-camp signing came with a focus at a skill position, too, with former San Francisco wide receiver Jalen Hurd signed as the proverbial 90th man.

Hurd’s signing came an hour after the team’s signing of linebacker and special teamer Diego Fagot, and following what was a busy day of free-agent workouts down in Foxborough. The signing of the 27-year-old Hurd almost bucks what many expected the Patriots to do, at least from a skill-position standpoint, after the Patriots worked out multiple free-agent running backs last week.

  • Drafted by the 49ers with the No. 67 overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, Hurd had promise, but simply couldn’t put together any sort of healthy run through his three-year tenure with the Niners.

    In 2019, Hurd dealt with a back injury that landed him on the injured reserve and kept him on the shelf for the entire season. His 2020 was even worse, really, as he dealt with a torn ACL suffered during an ‘on-the-side running route’ drill during an August practice. And in 2021, Hurd’s knee issues continued, and ultimately led to his release.

  • Aug 10, 2019; Santa Clara, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Jalen Hurd (17) celebrates after a touchdown against the Dallas Cowboys during the fourth quarter at Levi‚Äôs Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

    Aug 10, 2019; Santa Clara, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Jalen Hurd (17) celebrates after a touchdown against the Dallas Cowboys during the fourth quarter at Levi’s Stadium. (Kelley L Cox/USA TODAY Sports)

    The injuries were just too much for Kyle Shanahan’s club to overlook when it came to keeping Hurd around.

    “We realized he wasn’t going to come back this year,” Shanahan said following the team’s decision to move on from Hurd after three injury-shortened campaigns. “We were giving it as much time as we could. We all felt very strongly that if he could come back, how much he could have helped us. But for the third year in a row, just with his [bad luck] with these injuries, how it was healing, we knew it wasn’t going to be this year. Just going into a fourth year in a row of it would just be too much of a risk for our organization, so we had to move on.”

    Hurd’s exit from S.F. came without the Tennessee-born wideout ever logging a regular-season snap with the club.

    With that being the case, all of Hurd’s NFL experience has come in training camps and during preseason play.

    On the field for two games during the 2019 preseason, Hurd hauled in three catches for 31 yards and two touchdowns.

    And in 2021, Hurd found himself in action for one preseason tilt, and hauled in four catches for 25 yards.

  • 49ers wide receiver Jalen Hurd runs with the ball at Levi's Stadium on August 10, 2019 in Santa Clara, California.

    SANTA CLARA, CALIFORNIA — 49ers wide receiver Jalen Hurd runs with the ball at Levi’s Stadium on August 10, 2019 in Santa Clara, California. (Credit: USA TODAY Sports)

    In New England, Hurd will join a wide receiver room that’s simply loaded with bodies, and with a massive logjam at the bottom of the roster in search of that final spot on the team’s depth chart.

    With the Patriots’ wideout group headlined by free-agent addition JuJu Smith-Schuster and the recently-extended DeVante Parker, along with second-year pro Tyquan Thornton, Hurd’s competition will come with fellow fringe options towards the bottom of the roster. That group includes Kayshon Boutte, Tre Nixon, Demario Douglas, Raleigh Webb, Ed Lee, and Malik Cunningham.

  • LUBBOCK, TX - NOVEMBER 24: Wide receiver Jalen Hurd #5 of the Baylor Bears tries to get past defensive back Jah'Shawn Johnson #7 of the Texas Tech Red Raiders during the first half of the game on November 24, 2018 at  AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by John Weast/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Jalen Hurd;Jah'Shawn Johnson

    LUBBOCK, TX – NOVEMBER 24: Wide receiver Jalen Hurd #5 of the Baylor Bears tries to get past defensive back Jah’Shawn Johnson #7 of the Texas Tech Red Raiders during the game on November 24, 2018 at AT&T Stadium. (John Weast/Getty Images)

    And while Hurd’s NFL sample is both nonexistent and extremely limited, there is hope for him at the wideout position, at leased based on his collegiate career, which included a strong finish at Baylor University.

    In action for 12 games, and after sitting out the 2017 season after transferring from Tennessee to Baylor, Hurd totaled 69 catches and 946 receiving yards, along with four touchdowns, for the Bears.

  • BRISTOL, TN - SEPTEMBER 10:  in the first half at Bristol Motor Speedway on September 10, 2016 in Bristol, Tennessee. Virginia Tech defeated Tennessee 21-7. (Photo by Michael Shroyer/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Austen Arnaud

    BRISTOL, TN – SEPTEMBER 10: in the first half at Bristol Motor Speedway on September 10, 2016 in Bristol, Tennessee. Virginia Tech defeated Tennessee 21-7. (Michael Shroyer/Getty Images)

    And because you know the Patriots love themselves some versatility, it’s also worth mentioning that Hurd began his collegiate career as a running back, and listed as such during his first three years at the University of Tennessee.

    As a running back, Hurd’s best year came back in 2015, with 1,285 rushing yards and 12 rushing touchdowns on 277 carries over a 13-game run with the Vols. Overall, Hurd totaled 2,844 rushing yards on 637 carries (4.5 yards per carry), along with 23 touchdowns, in 45 games between Tennessee and Baylor.

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