As politely as possible, what the hell is Patriots’ wide receiver N’Keal Harry doing?
The 6-foot-4 former Arizona State University wide receiver was a first-round selection in the 2019 draft, and now has requested a trade through his agent, Jamal Tooson.
But, like… why?
Harry’s rookie season was Tom Brady’s last in New England, and was marred by injuries. It definitely did not live up to the hype. He saw the field in only seven games, logging 12 receptions on 24 targets for 105 yards and two touchdowns.
After Brady departed, the Patriots offense as a whole largely floundered in 2020. It looked promising in the early goings of the season with Cam Newton under center, including their 35-30 barnburner loss against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 2. Harry saw a very healthy 12 targets in that game, reeling in eight of them for 72 yards. Following that game, he would only see more than six targets in a game once for the rest of the season — and only two targets in five contests.
“N’Keal understands a key ingredient to production is opportunity,” Tooson said.
If your basis for requesting a trade is because Harry needs more “opportunity,” then good luck. The only competition Harry had for targets last year was two former undrafted free agents in Jakobi Meyers and Damiere Byrd, and the hobbled final offerings of Julian Edelman. There is not a single team in the NFL that he could go to with less competition for targets than New England.
Not only that, the quarterback play in Foxborough last year was abysmal after Newton contracted COVID-19. The Patriots just used a first-round draft pick on Alabama quarterback Michael McCorkle Jones (and yes, I will use his full name any opportunity I get). McCorkle gets a rough shake at times because he’s not one of the über-athletic prospects like Justin Fields, but he had a fantastic season in Alabama, is incredibly accurate from the pocket, makes good decisions, and doesn’t turn the ball over, very reminiscent of Brady, to be honest.
For a wide receiver who has struggled out of the gate and has yet to live up to his first-round draft status, requesting a trade makes no sense. New England has him under contract for two more seasons and has a zero percent chance of recouping the capital it spent on him only two seasons ago. They’ll want to see if they can maximize his talent with their new franchise quarterback, and Harry should want the same thing.
Just stay put, stay patient, and try to earn a key role in this offense, N’Keal. If you can’t beat out Meyers and Byrd, you won’t beat out anybody else.