Like clockwork, all the exposés that reporters have been sitting on but too nervous to publish are beginning to filter out regarding the alleged turmoil between Bill Belichick and the Patriots over the last several years. Now that they won't have to face the former New England head coach, some feel comfortable finally releasing the information they've gathered.
The latest gossip surrounds some of Belichick's biggest draft misses, with the most infamous being taking N'Keal Harry in the first round in 2019. The former ASU receiver was chosen over A.J. Brown, D.K. Metcalf, and Deebo Samuel, just to name a few, who have all gone on to become some of the best at the position across the league.
Meanwhile, Harry was traded by the Patriots to the Bears in 2022 and signed with the Vikings the following year, spending most of the year on the practice squad. He's been labeled one of the biggest draft busts in the Belichick era, and why the coach decided to select him over the others has remained a question amongst fans and media in the years since.
Fortunately or unfortunately (depending on how you look at it), Sports Illustrated's Albert Breer recently revealed what he's learned about the entire situation, detailing the reason Belichick chose to pass on Brown and Samuel for Harry.
“The draft was at the heart of the issue, and 2019 provided a flash point for folks on the personnel side. Before that draft, Patriots scouts were high on the South Carolina Gamecocks’ Deebo Samuel and Ole Miss Rebels’ A.J. Brown. The two came to Foxborough together on a visit and had been traveling together all week. As such, they had a good, jovial ability to poke at each other and laugh together, and Belichick was leery that they weren’t taking the visit seriously enough.
“Conversely, Arizona State’s N’Keal Harry had crushed his visit and, combined with recommendations from confidants — Sun Devils coaches Todd Graham and Herm Edwards — Belichick started to veer from his own scout’s recommendations. It was — to the scouts — another example that they weren’t being heard and that Belichick was taking the information he’d gathered instead of what they’d spent months and months compiling.”
Knowing more about what went into the decision to pass on Brown and Samuel doesn't make the situation better at all
Although many fans have been hoping to understand the thought process behind choosing Harry in the first round over the last five years, reading what Breer suggests is how it all went down makes the entire situation even worse, if that's even possible.
Rumors have swirled about Harry essentially winning the job due to blowing the Patriots away during his interview. So, seeing that be confirmed isn't news to anyone.
However, if there is any truth to the idea that Belichick felt Brown and Samuel weren't taking the process seriously enough, and that's why he decided to overlook their incredible talent and potential is beyond comprehension, especially when both players have confirmed they felt good about their visit and believed they would become Patriots on draft night.
Brown has gone on to record four seasons of 1,000+ receiving yards between stints in Tennessee and Philadelphia, scored 42 touchdowns, and been named to three Pro Bowls.
Samuel has become the best dual-threat receiver/running back duo in the league, amassing 4,122 receiving yards and 19 touchdowns while adding 1,007 rushing yards and 19 rushing touchdowns.
Meanwhile, Harry has totaled just 714 receiving yards and five touchdowns in that same time.
Now that Belichick will be coaching elsewhere next season and the Patriots are set to have close to $80 million in cap space and the third overall pick in the upcoming draft, there's a chance they can right some previous wrongs and acquire some game-changing players to bolster their offense specifically.
That's the ideal scenario for this offseason, so we don't have to write another article like this a few years from now.