In what was a widely expected decision, the New England Patriots declined the fifth-year option on wide receiver N’Keal Harry’s contract. The former 2019 first-round pick will officially be in a walk year when the 2022 NFL season kicks off.
Why didn’t they trade him during the NFL Draft? It’s not entirely clear, but at least there’s now a clear end in sight for Harry’s tenure with the Pats, which has been nothing short of a disaster considering all the bigger names New England passed on three years ago. Deebo Samuel, DK Metcalf and AJ Brown … that’s all you need to know.
Nonetheless, Harry is on the books this coming season and will deliver a $3.21 million cap hit to … not play? Seriously, will there be reps for him with Kendrick Bourne, Jakobi Meyers, DeVante Parker and Nelson Agholor ahead in the pecking order with rookie Tyquan Thornton expected to get some run?
We’ll call this one a sunk cost. It is what it is. It happens to every team at a much worse rate than what the Patriots have experienced under Bill Belichick’s reign.
The good news is that Harry’s awful play has made this latest decision easier for the Patriots, who will now not pay the $12.425 million that would’ve been owed to Harry had his fifth-year option been exercised.
The Patriots will save a hefty amount of money by rejecting N’Keal Harry’s option
That’s especially big because Agholor will also come off the books before the 2023 season, meaning there will be more room to add another receiving threat when the time comes. Here’s who will be under contract beyond 2022 in the WRs room:
- DeVante Parker 2023 salary: $6.3 million
- Kendrick Bourne 2023 salary: $6.91 million
Meyers will also be a free agent (he signed a restricted free agent tender for one year this offseason), but one can expect the Patriots will use the savings on Harry and Agholor to pay the 25-year-old if he has another productive campaign.
Either way, the Pats will be flush with cap space come next year, with an estimated $79 million in hand as things stand at the moment.
Yeah, it would’ve been nice if Harry had been more of an impact player beyond his paltry 57 catches for 598 yards and four touchdowns over his first 33 career games. If things were different, Mac Jones would have a true No. 1 receiving option for two more seasons and the Patriots wouldn’t have had to heavily invest in the position over the last two offseasons.
But the necessary recourse needed to take place and Harry will, at the latest, have an official home elsewhere come next March.