Will Damien Harris remain a Patriot? RB addresses pending free agency originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
The NFL offseason will begin for 18 teams on Monday morning, and the New England Patriots are one of them.
The Patriots were officially eliminated from postseason contention Sunday after they lost to the Buffalo Bills and the Miami Dolphins beat the New York Jets. That means questions about the team's pending free agents are already being asked.
Damien Harris is one of those pending free agents, as his four-year rookie deal expires in March. The veteran running back was asked after Sunday's game if he'd like to stay in New England in 2023.
"If they want to have me, I'd love to come back," Harris told reporters, via MassLive's Chris Mason. "But at the end of the day, I know this is a business, and I know that this organization is going to do what they feel is best for them, and at the end of the day, I've got to do what's best for me.
"We'll see what happens. I'm not really worried about that right now. Just trying to enjoy this last opportunity to be with my teammates this year, and whatever happens next year happens next year."
Harris had a breakout 2021 campaign with 929 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns but took a backseat this season to second-year back Rhamondre Stevenson, who became the Patriots' first 1,000-yard rusher since LeGarrette Blount in 2016 and also led the team in receptions with 69.
Considering New England took two running backs in the 2022 NFL Draft -- Pierre Strong Jr. and Kevin Harris -- and Harris missed six games due to injury this season, it seems very possible the Alabama product finds a new home in 2023. If the Patriots are confident enough in Strong and Harris as backups to Stevenson, it doesn't make much sense to devote significant money to Damien Harris.
If the Patriots decide to keep Damien Harris on the roster, however, it sounds like he'd be eager to suit up for a fifth season in Foxboro.