On top of signing a horde of free agents, the Pats have seven guys returning from their 2020 opt outs. There simply won’t be enough space when the 53-man roster is finalized.
That means some higher-profile names will be fighting for their jobs once training camp opens in a few weeks, and one will apparently be N’Keal Harry.
Most fans figured as much given his struggles with injuries and production during his first two NFL seasons, but it’s now been confirmed by a Patriots insider. And after that revelation, we have this bombshell: Harry has requested a trade from the Pats.
N’Keal Harry is reportedly in danger of not making the Patriots’ 53-man roster and now wants out.
Here’s what ESPN’s Mike Reiss had to say about his standing with the team:
"“Calling a third-year player a veteran might be questionable, but Harry not only has a crowded depth chart ahead of him in Nelson Agholor, Jakobi Meyers and Kendrick Bourne, but also competition for the No. 4 or 5 role from others who seem to provide more value on special teams (such as Gunner Olszewski as a punt returner) or have a standout trait (such as Isaiah Zuber’s speed). Harry’s contract might help him stick around, as the Patriots would take a $2 million cap hit for letting him go. That could ultimately buy the 2019 first-round pick a bit more time to see if things turn around.”"
With Garafolo’s news to boot, this relationship has finally reached a boiling point.
The situation surrounding Harry has been a bit tricky, but that doesn’t excuse him from ridicule. He was injured his rookie year and never developed a rapport with Tom Brady. Then, Cam Newton came to town and the Pats had one of the worst passing attacks in the league.
On top of that, many would argue Josh McDaniels isn’t utilizing Harry properly … who is more of a possession receiver rather than a big-body No. 1-type.
Then again, Josh Gordon nearly tripled his production two years ago in one fewer game. In 2020, Julian Edelman had more receiving yards in … eight fewer games. One could argue Harry hasn’t been put in the best situation to succeed, but the more glaring concern is the fact he’s far from made the best of whatever situation that is, especially when guys like Meyers and Damiere Byrd lapped him this past year.
Forget about the cap hit. Bill Belichick isn’t going to worry about that. He’ll be concerned with constructing the most impactful roster with the players who best fit the profile. But now the decision might be easier. If Harry wants out, perhaps the team can get a late-round draft pick in return, which is more beneficial for the team anyway. Belichick hits on rounds 5-7 better than anybody else.
At this point, it looks like Harry will not be a Patriots in 2021, whether he’s traded in the coming weeks or cut at the end of August.