Once the 2020 season ended, it seemed obvious N’Keal Harry was on his way out of New England. Then during this offseason, he perplexed everyone by formally requesting a trade from the team. And with that, it appeared to be almost a formality that he’d be traded or outright released before the regular season. But during practice Monday, Belichick threw everyone off by his quotes in reference to the underachieving receiver.
N'Keal Harry said last week that, despite his trade request, he could "absolutely" see himself playing in New England this year. Belichick said he and Harry have spoken and it sounds like both are in a good spot with his role on team and perhaps going forward.
— Tom E. Curran (@tomecurran) August 2, 2021
That quote would lead everyone to believe that the former first rounder may be sticking around for his final year in Foxboro. But if that is the case, it begs the question: Where would Harry even fit on this offense if he stays?
The Patriots receiving corps seems pretty locked in as it is. Newcomers Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry are easily the top two options. With the Pats looking to move to a tight end heavy offense, they’ll draw a ton of targets. And Belichick going out and grabbing Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne means that he plans on using them a good amount as well. That leaves emerging star Jakobi Meyers as the third receiver on the depth chart, with potential to move up to #2. Oh, and can’t forget the running backs getting involved in the passing game as well.
That’s a crowded room for Harry to find some reps in. Barring some sort of injury, his playing time will definitely diminish. Don’t get me wrong, he could wow everyone and leap frog Meyers or even Bourne, but is that realistic? With what he’s shown so far in his career, there’s little optimism that he’ll shine that much. And hearing that he’s putting on good performances in practice means nothing at this point. His practice play was never in question. It’s his play when it matters that leaves us to desire more.
While it would be great to see Harry play a crucial role in this offense and show what he can do, it just doesn’t seem likely. If the dust settles on training camp and Harry does indeed stay on this team, being buried on the depth chart isn’t going to get you a ton of playing time. And tough to imagine he’ll be happy about that. Not to mention the emergence of the running game with Damien Harris and Sony Michel. It just doesn’t seen like there’s going to be enough footballs to go around. So while Harry may stay on the team, don’t expect him to do much more than a few reverses and a handful of meaningful catches.
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(Featured Photo Credit: wtfsports.org)