When it comes to the New England Patriots, Bill Belichick calls all the shots. The architect of six Super Bowl titles has made countless phone calls informing players of their roster status. But his recent discussion with one of his team captains qualifies as one of the strangest phone calls in his Hall of Fame career.
In need of salary cap space in the post-Tom Brady era, the Patriots traded safety Duron Harmon to Detroit. The former team captain received word of the trade directly from Belichick. Only when he finally picked up the phone to hear the news, Harmon was sitting in a dentist chair.
Duron Harmon got trade call from Bill Belichick during dentist visit
Patriots players shouldn’t be surprised by anything Belichick does. But even for Harmon, the trade news certainly qualified as a shock. Perhaps that had more to do with his environment than the deal itself. The veteran safety was at the dentist office for a procedure when his phone started ringing. It turns out that not only would he be leaving with a new tooth but also a new team. Harmon explained the unforgettable phone call from Belichick to Lions reporter Tori Petry in a video interview posted on the Lions’ official website:
“So I finish getting my tooth out, jaw as puffy as ever, I call him back. We’re on the phone; we’re talking a little bit, small talk, and he lets me know, right after I get my tooth taken out, ‘You’ve been traded to the Lions.’ And I just was like, ‘All right.’ (It was) a lot to process, because I’m still trying to figure out — I’ve got to go to CVS, I’ve got to get my medication that I need. Telling my wife — I’m calling her and letting her know I had to get my tooth taken out, and now I’ve got to call her back and let her know we got traded.
Harmon definitely didn’t expect to get traded during his dentist visit. But the three-time Super Bowl winner took in stride. In seven seasons with the Patriots, he certainly witnessed his fair share of shocking transactions. New England received a 2020 fifth-round pick in exchange for Harmon and a seventh-round selection.
Harmon played pivotal role for Patriots since 2013
The Patriots gained a reputation for dipping into the Rutgers pool repeatedly in the NFL draft. Bill Belichick hit big in 2010 with Devin McCourty, and he went back to the well in 2013—twice. After taking Logan Ryan with the 83rd pick, Belichick circled around and took Harmon, his college teammate, eight picks later.
At first, the pick looked like a major reach. Harmon did not garner much attention ahead of the 2013 NFL draft. Most NFL draft experts pegged him as a late-rounder. Harmon even admitted surprise at his third-round draft status. Ultimately, Belichick made the right call and proved everyone wrong.
Harmon never became a full-time starter, but he played a key role as New England’s third safety behind McCourty and Patrick Chung. Known in Patriots circles as “The Closer”, Harmon recorded 17 interceptions in 111 regular-season appearances. Despite his part-time status, Harmon came up clutch when it mattered, recording four interceptions and five passes defended in 17 postseason games. His game-sealing interception against Joe Flacco in the 2014 AFC Divisional Round proved to be one several signature playoff moments in his seven-year Patriots career.
Harmon reunited with former Patriots teammates and coach
The offseason hasn’t been kind to the Patriots. Tom Brady’s departure obviously sent shock waves through New England. However, the number of players who have left Belichick and joined forces with his former understudies is shocking.
Lions head coach Matt Patricia clearly made an effort to bring in some of his guys from his days as Patriots defensive coordinator. Detroit signed Trey Flowers to a monster contract last offseason. This week, the Lions signed former Patriots linebacker Jamie Collins to a $30 million deal before bringing in burly nose tackle Danny Shelton on a two-year, $8 million contract.
With Harmon on board, Detroit’s starting defense will feature four former Patriots. So far, Patricia has had major trouble replicating Belichick’s success. In three seasons as head coach, Patricia has posted a disappointing 9-22 record, alienated and traded away his best defensive player, and made several head-scratching personnel moves.
Maybe Harmon will help shore up Patricia’s 26th-ranked scoring defense. Or maybe, Patricia will go down as yet another Patriots coach who fails to live up to expectations outside of New England.