The New England Patriots have been dealing with an official trade request for weeks now, as wide receiver N’Keal Harry wants to get a fresh start elsewhere after two lackluster seasons with the team.
After recording just 45 catches since 2019, Harry has been relegated to a backup role on the depth chart after the signings of Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne prove that Bill Belichick identified the wide receiver position as one of the major weak points last year.
Very rarely does a player with Harry’s lack of accolades demand a trade, but that declaration compounded with the fact that the Patriots might have to deal Stephon Gilmore, has the team dealing with situations on the opposite sides of the spectrum.
The bottom line is Harry should be moved as soon as possible. There’s no reason to wait.
Patriots insider Mike Reiss claims that a Harry deal might come later in the preseason considering how tough it could be to get teams to take a chance on a player that has underperformed to this degree.
Reiss did mention that one way Harry, who intends to report to training camp, could get traded involves the Patriots swapping him out for another first-round bust.
When will the Patriots finally trade N’Keal Harry?
The 2006 trade of Bethel Johnson, a second-round receiver who recorded just 26 catches in his first two seasons, to the New Orleans Saints for former first-round defensive tackle Jonathan Sullivan, who was cut before he played a down in New England, could provide the outline of a deal that ships Harry out of town.
Even with all of the potential that Harry has left in him, he isn’t going to net anything more than a late-round pick or another early-round bust that’s on the verge of being discarded. If New England is holding out for more in a trade, or if they believe Harry will magically return to his Arizona State form, that’s a very unwise decision.
While Brandon Aiyuk was able to prove his quality as a pro prospect with the Sun Devils, Harry’s production appeared to have been related to ASU force-feeding him the ball. Harry was billed as a physical receiver that would dominate contested-catch scenarios, but we haven’t seen that come to fruition … at all.
He’s endured a tough situation to begin his NFL career, but the 2020 season was a perfect opportunity for him to separate himself from the pack. Julian Edelman’s injury created the need for more reps. There was no starting-caliber tight-end eating up receptions. The next best wideout was (before Jakobi Meyers emerged) Damiere Byrd. Harry failed in every regard.
Nonetheless, the sooner that this whole mess gets resolved, the better. Adding a late-round pick or another highly-touted bust at a different position might not be the most attractive prize in the world, but it’s better than going into camp with a No. 4 wide receiver blustering about his lack of opportunity.