The New England Patriots must address one of their biggest needs this offseason — wide receiver. To move forward, the front office needs to admit its past mistake. N’Keal Harry is a former first-round draft pick, but his returns haven’t come close to matching the capital used on him.
Bill Belichick’s squad showed signs of progress throughout the 2021 NFL season. However, if the team wants to maximize Mac Jones’ potential, it needs to get him some weapons. Moving Harry could be a start, as he has shown no signs of developing into a legitimate receiving threat in New England.
Multiple teams reportedly interested in Patriots WR N’Keal Harry
N’Keal Harry’s agent, Jamal Tooson, formally requested a trade for his client in the 2021 offseason. Nothing ever materialized, and the two sides could be back to the drawing board again.
According to Doug Kyed of Pro Football Focus, multiple teams have recently shown interest in acquiring Harry. “He is a name to keep an eye on,” said Kyed.
The Toronto, Ontario native is under contract with the Patriots through the 2022 season, as this is the final year of his rookie deal. Harry would make $1.8 million if the team retains him. He would also count $3.2 million against the salary cap.
The Arizona State product doesn’t carry a hefty price tag, so moving him may not mean much financially. However, it would allow New England to put the rumors to bed and get past the failed Harry pick. Not to mention, if the Patriots can somehow recoup a draft pick or any cash considerations, it could bring more value than the receiver has during his time there.
The former Arizona State star has failed to live up to expecations
The New England Patriots appeared to be getting a steal when they landed N’Keal Harry with the No. 32 overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.
Harry starred at Arizona State before making the jump to the pros. He recorded 213 receptions for 2,889 yards and 22 touchdowns in three seasons with the Sun Devils.
Unfortunately, Harry’s collegiate success hasn’t translated to the next level. He has struggled mightily to produce in his three seasons with the Patriots. He has caught just 59 passes for 619 yards and four touchdowns in 35 games (including playoffs).
The 24-year-old’s production dipped significantly from 2020 to 2021. Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels used Harry more as a blocker, which is disheartening considering the tools he possessed entering the league.
The 2019 draft class featured several notable wide receivers, including Deebo Samuel, D.K. Metcalf, A.J. Brown, Terry McLaurin, and Diontae Johnson. N’Keal Harry’s numbers pale in comparison.
Perhaps a fresh start could bring something out of the disappointing wideout, but his struggles in New England are alarming.
How does New England address the wide receiver position?
Sure, the N’Keal Harry pick was one the Patriots wish they could have back. However, he’s not the root of the team’s issue at wide receiver. Bill Belichick and company have been trying to address the position over the past few years, but they haven’t exactly done a great job at it.
Jakobi Meyers has led the team in receiving in back-to-back seasons. The third-year wideout has recorded 142 receptions, 1,595 receiving yards, and two touchdowns during that span. As an undrafted free agent, those are solid numbers, but not nearly enough to be a No. 1 option.
New England added Kendrick Bourne and Nelson Agholor in the 2021 offseason. Bourne enjoyed his best season-to-date, hauling in 55 receptions for 800 yards and five touchdowns. Meanwhile, Agholor caught 37 passes for 473 yards and three scores.
Meyers, Bourne, and Agholor are decent pieces, but none of them move the needle. The Patriots have a young quarterback in Mac Jones under center. They need to surround him with legitimate playmaking weapons.
New England could attack the position in free agency with a player like Allen Robinson II or JuJu Smith-Schuster. Or, the front office could look to land a playmaker in the 2022 NFL Draft, such as Ohio State’s Chris Olave or Alabama’s Jameson Williams.
Regardless, the Patriots can’t afford to not improve their wide receiver room in 2022.
All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference