July 06, 2021
The first two seasons in New England for former first-round pick N'Keal Harry didn't go as expected, with the Arizona State product catching just 45 passes for 414 yards and four touchdowns in 21 games with the Patriots.
When he was drafted 32nd overall, the team had Tom Brady and was a perennial contender. Then Brady left and won in Tampa, while New England is in the process of rebuilding and adjusting to life in the post-Brady era. All of that has led to Harry, 23, requesting a trade from the Patriots, according to a statement his agent Jamal Tooson released through NFL Network's Mike Garafolo.
Give Harry's lack of production and his apparent desire to move it, it probably won't cost that much to acquire him from New England, unless of course Bill Belichick and Co. still see the potential they saw then they took him back on the first night of the 2019 NFL Draft. But given that he was a candidate to get cut out of training camp according to ESPN, it's likely going to be a Day 3 pick that gets it done.
Why he could get cut: Calling a third-year player a veteran might be questionable, but Harry not only has a crowded depth chart ahead of him in Nelson Agholor, Jakobi Meyers and Kendrick Bourne, but also competition for the No. 4 or 5 role from others who seem to provide more value on special teams (such as Gunner Olszewski as a punt returner) or have a standout trait (such as Isaiah Zuber's speed). Harry's contract might help him stick around, as the Patriots would take a $2 million cap hit for letting him go. That could ultimately buy the 2019 first-round pick a bit more time to see if things turn around. -- Mike Reiss [espn.com]
Given the relatively low projected cost and their own lack of established players at the position (meaning plenty of snaps to go around), could the Eagles and the always-active Howie Roseman take a flier on Harry now that it seems like his time in New England is coming to a close?
After the news dropped, NJ.com's Mike Kaye took a look at three potential landing spots for Harry, and the Eagles were right at the top of his list...
Despite spending back-to-back first-round-round picks on wide receivers, the Eagles’ overall wideout depth chart leaves a lot to be desired. While DeVonta Smith and Jalen Reagor can create big plays with their speed, the Eagles could use a sure-fire X receiver on the outside. Harry could come in and compete with Travis Fulgham for the third starting wide receiver spot. The Eagles have three extra picks in next year’s draft, including a second fifth-round pick (via Washington), which might be enough to get a deal done. [nj.com]
If that's the cost, they absolutely should take a flier on Harry. And for those skeptical of the Eagles' ability to — I'll borrow a phrase from Marc Zumoff here — turn garbage into gold, you don't have to look too far in the past to find a prime example, as Mike was quick to point out on Twitter.
Sure, it's a new coaching staff, but guess what? One of the few assistants back with the Eagles this year is wideouts coach Aaron Moorehead. Maybe he can get a similar turnaround out of Harry, and with Harry having more of a pedigree being a former first-round pick, maybe the young receiver can sustain that level of play longer than Fulgham did last season before coming back down to earth.
Mike is hardly the only Eagles writer to think that Harry makes sense for the Eagles. The financials speak for themselves — he would only cost the Birds $1.1 million this year and $1.8 million next year as he finishes out his rookie contract. And, as WIP's Eliot Shorr-Parks points out, taking a chance on Harry not only makes sense in the short-term window of how he'd fit on the roster but also in the bigger picture sense, being that Philly is not currently a contending team and can afford to take some low-cost/high-upside risks now more than ever. Here's more from ESP...
The main reason the Eagles should take a chance on Harry? They are in the first year of a rebuild, and can afford to take low-risk, high-reward chances on young players. While they will compete for the NFC East title, they have plenty of snaps to go around at receiver as they try to sort through the young receivers they have on the roster to find long-term starters.
The Eagles’ receiving core got a big boost this offseason when they drafted DeVonta Smith, and actually does have some young receivers with potential, but overall is one of the weakest units on the team. Harry is not a proven veteran by any stretch, but he hasn’t been a bust either, and is just two years removed from being a first-round pick. On upside alone Harry is worth taking a shot on if the draft compensation isn’t very high. He would also be debatably the second-best receiver on the roster right away, and the best if you consider Smith hasn’t even played in the NFL yet. [audacy.com]
With some showing concern over Smith's slight frame, a big receiver like Harry could bring some balance to the Eagles receiving corps, especially with Jalen Reagor looking to move to the slot and Arcega-Whiteside failing to live up to his potential (not to mention Fulgham still being a question mark moving forward).
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