Weeks after most of us thought former Patriots first-round wide receiver N’Keal Harry would’ve been shipped off to parts unknown with New England content with recouping any compensation whatsoever, the wideout is still here, and he’s making the most of it.
Harry’s trade demand midway through the summer received all the wrong kind of responses, ranging from questions of his pedigree and whether he’d done anything to merit having a say in his future, to genuine assessments of his value that all seemed to end with, “………..whatever you’ve got left over.”
On the verge of this summer’s first preseason contest, though, discussions around trading Harry have been mostly mum, and instead the wideout is working hard at pairing himself with Cam Newton, as both men try to become indispensable amid increased competition.
So far, so good for Harry, who earned praise from his quarterback on Thursday for performing (and staying mostly silent).
Though we’ve yet to see Harry get separation or win the point of attack on contested catches like we were promised when he came out of Arizona State, this training camp has certainly raised his profile.
He and Newton remain a better pair than their on-field connection has indicated, and the quarterback still seems to think Harry’s ceiling is worth keeping around.
New England Patriots QB Cam Newton likes N’Keal Harry.
Of course, this could all be moot in a few weeks — at least until we learn how Mac Jones feels about Harry.
What the public has seen at training camp has been largely impressive, too, culminating with one of the “plays of the week” where Harry hauled in a long bomb, mid-twist.
After that catch, Jonathan Jones (the cornerback he beat) joined in with more effusive praise:
"“We played off coverage. It was a back-shoulder catch-and-throw, kind of one of those plays that they’re good at, and they made the play. We’re competing,” Jones said, before sharing insight on what it’s like matching up against Harry.“He’s physical. He’s a big body, big-target radius. He’s competitive. Every day he’s out there to compete, and that’s what you like to see.”"
A first-round wideout playing competent football isn’t the most shocking storyline of the decade, but this one’s context-dependent, especially since Harry was one phone call away from potentially breaking out on a different roster this fall.
For now, it seems unlikely Harry will have a new home at any point in the next month. If he’s able to finally live up to his pedigree with Newton at the helm this year, the Patriots will have dodged disaster in much the same way Harry seems to be dodging DBs.
Cutting bait on Harry would’ve hurt only if he’d immediately corrected his flaws in a new system. Hopefully, he and Newton keep having the opportunity to scratch the surface together.