The New England Patriots wide receiver corps is still far from perfect, but now it’ll at least keep opposing defenses honest after they acquired contested catch savant DeVante Parker from the Miami Dolphins.
With Parker capable of dominating along the boundary with his 6-foot-3, 219-pound frame and Jakobi Meyers and Kendrick Bourne finding pockets of space on intermediate routes, Mac Jones has to be feeling confident entering his second season.
We’d also be remiss if we didn’t acknowledge Nelson Agholor’s big play ability, Hunter Henry’s imposing presence in the redzone (nine touchdowns in 2021) and the potential for a bounce-back year from Jonnu Smith.
That shouldn’t dissuade the Patriots from drafting a wide receiver this year, however. The Parker trade gives them the flexibility to go cornerback in the first round, then the best receiver available in the second.
What the trade should do, though, is give New England the necessary flexibility to end the N’Keal Harry era once and for all.
The New England Patriots need to cut bait with N’Keal Harry after trading for DeVante Parker.
It might seem like we have it out for Harry, but does anyone out there really think a divorce isn’t necessary? Leaving the Patriots would be in his interest, too. Both parties would come under more scrutiny if the 2019 first-round pick stuck around for another season. Nobody needs that.
In 2021, Harry was the fourth WR on the depth chart behind Meyers, Bourne and Agholor. By the end of the season, he was made a healthy scratch in favor of 2020 undrafted free agent Kristian Wilkerson, who caught four passes for 42 yards and two scores in his first start in Week 17.
Sure, it came in a 50-10 rout of the Jaguars, but Harry has totaled just three career games with four or more catches, three with more than 42 receiving yards, and he’s never scored two touchdowns in a single game.
When all was said and done, Harry played 331 of a possible 1,169 offensive snaps (28.3 percent) and managed 12 catches for 184 yards. Some WRs post that stat line on one Sunday, let alone throughout an entire season.
At the end of the day, Harry’s most notable moment of 2021 came when he lost a fumble on a punt return against Buffalo in Week 13. He never should’ve been in that position to begin with (he had never fielded a punt before in his career), but the play just encapsulated his Patriots tenure to date.
We like to think Harry can carve out a nice career for himself as a receiver, but it’s not happening in New England. Unless he’s content spending most of his snaps setting the edge as a blocker in the running game, he needs to re-up his trade request from last offseason.
Still just 24 years old, there’s time for Harry to save his career.