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In the New England Patriots’ win over the New York Jets, N’Keal Harry made the type of exceptional play he’s made throughout his career, though all-too sparingly in the NFL. Harry, a 2019 first-round pick, went up and snatched a poorly-thrown ball over cornerback Javelin Guidry.
The 28-yard reception was yet another example of Harry’s potential, which has never yielded an impact performance from the young receiver.
“Those are the kind of plays that attracted us to N’Keal in the first place,” Patriots receivers and kick returners coach Troy Brown said during a videoconference call Tuesday. “I know he hasn’t been on the field a lot because of injuries or whatnot, but those are the kind of plays he can make. … The more he can do that, the more it’ll help our football team.”
The question is whether he’ll actually help the Patriots in 2021 — or whether he’ll land with a new team before the trade deadline on Nov. 2.
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) October 24, 2021
Harry demanded a trade this offseason through his agent. The receiver stayed quiet during training camp, though he did string together a number of exceptional practice sessions. But again, his potential didn’t materialize with in-game production, and he suffered a shoulder injury in preseason that put him out for the first few weeks of the season. He has played just three games this year.
It doesn’t help his trade value that his overall body of work isn’t impressive: 48 catches, 461 yards and four touchdowns. The Patriots receiver’s most productive game was an eight-catch, 72-yard performance against the Seahawks in Week 2 of the 2020 season. He has three catches this season, and his two targets in Week 7 came from Brian Hoyer in garbage time.
That’s what has likely made it difficult for the Patriots to recoup value on the receiver, whose reputation is more of flash than substance. He is, simply put, a bust. New England can try shopping him at the trade deadline, perhaps swapping him for another former high-round pick (Cardinals receiver Andy Isabella or Jaguars defensive end K’lavon Chaisson). Though it’s more likely he’d go for a sixth-round pick.
Just how happy would they be to move Harry?
The Patriots will probably want to get his contract off their books, with Harry set to earn $1.4 million in 2021 and $1.87 million in 2022. That said, he plays a fairly important role as the team’s fourth receiver. They don’t have a reliable option past Kendrick Bourne, Nelson Agholor and Jakobi Meyers. If one of those players suffered an injury, they might get thin at receiver — not unlike what has happened at running back after the team traded Sony Michel.
It will be a tough decision for New England, particularly if the offers are meager.