Heading into his third year in the NFL, N’Keal Harry’s agent has requested that the New England Patriots find him a new home. Los Angeles-based lawyer and NFL Agent Jamal Tooson gave the following statement about the former first-round pick’s trade request, first reported by NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo:
For the record, I came up covering N’Keal Harry, first as a high school standout, and then later as a star receiver at Arizona State University. While Patriots fans are understandably upset at the idea that anyone would ask to be moved from their storied franchise, the trade request actually makes sense. Bill Belichick’s post-Tom Brady offense ranked tied for last in TD passes, 31st in completions, 30th in passing yards, and 27th in points per game. They return the same offensive coordinator in Josh McDaniels, and WR coach in Mick Lombardi, and in all likelihood, Cam Newton will take the majority of the snaps under center this year as 2021 first round draft pick Mac Jones develops.
In his first two years in New England, N’Keal Harry has battled injuries, and struggled to find a consistent role in the Patriots offense when he’s on the field. As his agent alluded to in his public comments about the trade request, Harry desires to be used as a downfield threat. To many Patriots fans, they see a receiver that struggles to create separation off the line of scrimmage, and so continuing to try and make use of him on shorter routes seems to be counterintuitive.
While Pats fans might be upset at Harry’s early production, and at the idea that he’s request a trade heading into his third season, if they don’t believe he’s going to ultimately fulfil their expectations, why wouldn’t they be behind the idea of attempting to get some compensation in return for finding a more fitting offense?
On N’Keal Harry’s end, it makes sense to attempt to position himself as a necessary offensive weapon on a team with a thriving (or at the very least, average) offense. It’s going to be increasingly difficult for N’Keal Harry to earn a second contract on a team whose wideouts from the 2020 season ranked 28th in total targets, and one of only three teams in the NFL without a single wide receiver on the roster to average over six targets per game (Eagles, Raiders).
Whether there’s a market for N’Keal Harry isn’t in question, what remains to be seen is just how motivated Bill Belichick is to finding a new home for Harry whilst seeking fair compensation in return. Assuming the Patriots do move N’Keal Harry, here are five trade destinations that make the most sense:
1. The Kansas City Chiefs
Any wideout would jump at the chance to play alongside Patrick Mahomes, as well as in an Andy Reid offense. What makes this a potentially great fit is that the Chiefs actually have a need for a bigger-bodied receiver after losing Sammy Watkins in free agency to the Baltimore Ravens. They have Marcus Kemp, Jody Fortson and Gehrig Dieter as developmental guys, so you know they have a desire to play a bigger wideout alongside speedy-but-diminutive threats Mecole Hardman and Tyreek Hill. N’Keal Harry could make an already unstoppable offense even more dangerous, but as Charles Goodman of Chiefs Wire pointed out, the $1.4 million and $3.2 million cap hits over the next two years might be a tough pill to swallow unless they believe Harry is going to pan out.
2. The Los Angeles Chargers
Justin Herbert likes big receivers, and isn’t afraid to take risks downfield. While adding N’keal Harry would likely be more of a depth play in 2021, as Mike Williams and Keenan Allen are firmly entrenched as the top two receivers on the Chargers roster, one has to wonder if the Chargers plan on breaking the bank to keep Williams and Allen paired together beyond 2021. The dynamic duo is scheduled to make a combined $31 millions this season, and with Williams on the cusp on unrestricted free agency, and Allen due another $66 million in 2022-2024. Harry could give the Chargers the option of spending their money elsewhere in the 2022 offseason, while giving him some of the more mild weather that he thrived in as a collegiate standout.
3. The Jacksonville Jaguars
Urban Meyer likes big athletes with five-star pedigrees, and N’Keal Harry certainly has that going for him. The Jaguars are putting their franchise in the hands of a rookie QB in Trevor Lawrence, and the best thing they can do for him is surround him with as much talent as possible right out of the gate. The Jaguars have the resources and the cap room to make this happen without even breaking a sweat, and the capital with the fans to mark any risk that doesn’t pan out in the early going as a well intentioned experiment (for reference, see Tim Tebow).
4. The Green Bay Packers
Could one man’s trade request be the cure for another? Aaron Rodgers’ much-chronicled battle with the Green Bay front office has dragged on far longer than any Packers fan is comfortable with, but it looks like they’re ready to hang on to Rodgers no matter how hard the future hall of famer makes the lives of every single suit in that organization. Certainly adding one former first round pick at wide receiver isn’t going to cure all of the internal ills they have going on over there, but even if adding N’Keal Harry doesn’t tempt Aaron Rodgers to squash his many beefs and attempt to put together another MVP season in 2021, Jordan Love is going to need more weapons on the outside anyway.
5. The Denver Broncos
You might be looking at the Denver Broncos being included on this list and saying to yourself “why would N’Keal Harry want to go to a team that’s equally unsettled at the quarterback position?” Well, fellow class of 2016 5-star wideout Jerry Jeudy is a Denver Bronco, and one thing the Denver Broncos made sure to do was give him tons of opportunities to succeed. Jeudy was second in targets among rookies in 2020 despite being eighth in receptions. Through their growing pains, the Broncos at least made sure to take plenty of shots. The other thing I find appealing about this Broncos offense is the way Vic Fangio makes use of 6-4, 212 WR Tim Patrick. After two forgettable years in Denver, Patrick had 51 receptions and 6 touchdowns in 2021. That’s exactly the type of development and career rehabilitation N’Keal Harry needs.