Former Patriots RB Damien Harris talks desire to play for Bills while in New England

AFC Wild Card Playoffs - New England Patriots v Buffalo Bills
AFC Wild Card Playoffs - New England Patriots v Buffalo Bills / Timothy T Ludwig/GettyImages

It's never easy to see a productive and well-liked player leave the Patriots, and it was definitely difficult hearing about Damien Harris' departure in free agency earlier this year.

It was even less fun when it was announced he was signing with New England's AFC East rival, the Buffalo Bills.

Although it seemed likely that his time was nearing its end with the team that drafted him in 2019, there was some hope that Bill Belichick would re-sign the running back who had become an essential piece of the offense over the last two seasons.

But much of that changed with the addition of Rhamondre Stevenson, who was taken in the fourth round of the 2021 draft.

As a much different runner than Harris, Stevenson quickly rose to stardom because of his similar style to former Patriots great LeGarrette Blount. After some shaky moments during his rookie season, particularly concerning fumbles, Stevenson swiftly became the RB1 on the team.

His added snaps as a receiver made it even more apparent that Harris was likely on the way out, as he is not the James White-type running back the Patriots tend to favor.

Fast forward to free agency in March, the Patriots signed running back James Robinson, presumably as the replacement for Harris, who was set to hit the free agent market. He was one of the top running backs available for teams to sign, but it took a few weeks until news broke that he would go to the Bills.

During his first interview in Buffalo, Harris had nothing but positive things to say about his time spent in New England, citing how much he was able to learn throughout the four years as a Patriot. But that changed a bit recently when comments the running back made in March resurfaced.

When asked about why he wanted to play for the Bills, Harris mentioned his desire began while he was still a member of the Patriots.

"I always said that playing against the Bills, I felt like brought out the best in me as a competitor and as a player. And from the outside looking in as an opponent, if I felt that way, then I knew that if I was able to join this organization, I feel like I could just take it to a new height."

Damien Harris

This may mean nothing.

It may mean something.

But it's interesting to hear a player state something like this, especially one that had seemingly made it known that he wanted to re-sign with the Patriots and was unhappy they didn't extend a contract offer.

Maybe it's bitterness talking, or perhaps it's the truth since the Bills have become the leaders of the AFC East in recent years, so wanting to play for a team with a good chance to win isn't out of the ordinary.

Regardless of the intent behind the comment, it's not fun to hear a former player reveal they had an aspiration to join their team's biggest rival while still on the team.