This week’s Sunday Night Football game for the New England Patriots will have a familiar feel to it. Not only due to the opposition being their longtime division rival from Miami, but because of some specific Dolphins players on the other sideline. Five former Patriots are scheduled to play for the Dolphins, including New England’s 2018 first round draft pick, Isaiah Wynn.
It was a strange five seasons in Foxboro for Isaiah Wynn with the Patriots. He was taken by New England at 23 overall in the 2018 NFL Draft out of Georgia, but would not play a regular season down as a rookie. Wynn tore his Achilles in the preseason, forcing him to watch from the sideline as New England went on to win the Super Bowl that season. After being cleared to return in 2019, a toe injury forced him to miss half of that campaign as well. Two seasons into his NFL career and Wynn had managed to play only eight games. 2020 began better and healthier for Wynn, but by Week 11 he was once again done for the year, this time with a right knee injury.
In 2021 Wynn managed to play in 16 games for New England, easily a career-high to date. He was the starter at left tackle, opposite Trent Brown on the right side. Not surprisingly, his lone injury-free season with the Patriots was also his best. However, when he was most needed, he was once again out injured. After injuring his ankle in the regular season finale against Miami, Wynn was unable to play when New England faced the Buffalo Bills in Wild Card weekend of the NFL Playoffs.
Prior to the 2022 season, Bill Belichick opted to have his offensive tackles switch sides. Trent Brown was moved to the left side, where he had started during the 2018 Super Bowl season in Wynn’s absence. Wynn was shifted over to the right, where he had not played during his NFL career. At times during he appeared unhappy, uninterested, and ultimately unhealthy. He played in only nine games, missing the end of the season with yet another foot injury.
When the New England Patriots drafted Isaiah Wynn in 2018, the hope was that he would have a long tenure at left tackle like his predecessors. Matt Light had held down the spot for 11 seasons, from 2001-2011. Including playoffs, Light played in 88.4% of games during his career. This number would have been even higher had he not been limited to just three games in 2005. Following Light came Nate Solder, who protected Tom Brady’s blindside for six seasons (2012-2017) after playing opposite Light as a rookie. Solder played in at least 15 games in six of his seven seasons with New England.
Isaiah Wynn ended his time with the Patriots having been available for just 44 of 87 games, including one of five in the postseason. Playing in only 50.6% of games during his time with New England, Wynn proved once again that the best ability is availability. For the most part, Wynn was very solid when he played. Unfortunately, Wynn did not play nearly enough.
After the 2022 season, Wynn signed with the Dolphins as a free agent. He agreed to a one-year deal with Miami. Based on taking to Twitter (X) to post “Free” just a week before NFL free agency opened, it seemed clear Wynn was ready for a fresh start.
Joining Isaiah Wynn in facing his former team are three other Dolphins:
P Jake Bailey – A 2019 fifth round pick, Bailey began his Patriots career in excellent fashion. He handled punts, kickoffs, and holding duties. In 2020 he was named first team All Pro. Things trended in the wrong direction from there, however. In 2021 Bailey had three punts blocked, and both his punting and kickoff numbers waned. In 2022 his numbers were once again worse across the board, until he was eventually placed on the injured list and ultimately suspended. The suspension caused Bailey to file a grievance against New England, a matter he would later state had been settled. Regardless, after a very promising beginning to his Patriots career, things eventually ended ugly, before he landed in Miami this past offseason.
WR Braxton Berrios – The Patriots took Berrios in the sixth round of the 2018 NFL Draft. However, Berrios never actually suited up for New England in a regular season game. After failing to make the 53-man roster out of training camp, the New York Jets swiped in to claim Berrios off of waivers before he could join the Patriots practice squad. In four seasons with the Jets, he would become a complimentary receiver, while thriving on special teams. He was named a 2021 All Pro as a kickoff returner. After being released by the Jets this past March, Berrios signed with the Dolphins in the offseason.
DB/ST Justin Bethel – A veteran of 12 NFL seasons, Bethel spent parts of the 2019-2021 seasons in New England. Early in his career, he was the NFC counterpart of Patriots special teams ace Matthew Slater, making three consecutive Pro Bowl appearances as a member of the Arizona Cardinals from 2013-2015. He continued to be a solid special teams player with the Patriots, making an occasional contribution on defense as well.
LB Chase Winovich – Another member of the 2019 Patriots draft class (third round) he played his first three years with the Patriots. Winovich was traded to the Cleveland Browns for Mack Wilson, Sr. following the 2021 season. Miami is his third stop in as many seasons. He was inactive for the Dolphins last week.