June 19, 2024

If you followed the Patriots through their challenging 2023 NFL season, which resulted in a 4-13 record, you’ll likely regret how rookie Malik Cunningham was handled. Despite showing great potential in the preseason, Cunningham was given virtually no role once the regular season began. For an offense that frequently struggled, incorporating Cunningham seemed like a low-risk move for a team with little to lose.

Cunningham only appeared in one game for the Patriots before being picked up by the Ravens off the practice squad. To add insult to injury, the Ravens are now doing what the Patriots should have—finding a way to utilize Cunningham on the field. Over the weekend, it was revealed that Baltimore is continuing its effort to convert Cunningham into a wide receiver.

Team reporter Ryan Mink posted on Twitter/X: “Malik Cunningham is now officially listed as a WR (not QB) on the Ravens’ roster, btw. He made that look like the right call today with several grabs.”

### Patriots Handed Out Record UDFA Contract

The Patriots signed Malik Cunningham as an undrafted free agent last year, offering him a guaranteed $200,000—a franchise record for a UDFA. This substantial investment was justified by Cunningham’s impressive college career at Louisville, where he followed in the footsteps of Ravens star Lamar Jackson. As teammates during Cunningham’s freshman year in 2018, Cunningham broke Jackson’s school record by accounting for 120 touchdowns in 47 starts.

Cunningham also amassed 9,664 passing yards and 3,318 rushing yards in college, surpassing the 1,000-yard rushing mark as a junior. While he lacks Jackson’s arm strength, his dual-threat capabilities drew frequent comparisons between the two.

“I do get tired of it a little bit, but who wouldn’t want to be compared to Lamar?” Cunningham said last year. “I mean, the great Lamar, in my opinion, the best college football player to ever play the sport. Just a role model to me, a big brother, and I’m thankful for a lot of the stuff that he does for me.”

### Malik Cunningham Never Got a Shot

Cunningham could soon be catching passes from Jackson himself. He initially made an impression with the Patriots by leading their only touchdown drive in a preseason game against the Texans, going 3-for-4 passing for 19 yards and rushing for 34 yards, including a touchdown. The drive covered 75 yards in 14 plays and was the Patriots’ lone bright spot that night.

Despite showing promise, Cunningham primarily practiced as a receiver on the Patriots’ practice squad. Excitement grew when he was given a standard contract last October, with ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler reporting that coaches were considering incorporating Cunningham into the game plan significantly.

However, this anticipation proved unfounded. Cunningham was waived and returned to the practice squad 10 days later, receiving little opportunity to showcase his talents in New England. Now with the Ravens, he remains a player to watch.

Patriots former UDFA Malik Cunningham

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