We’re almost there, but the day we can officially place the “bust” stamp on N’Keal Harry for his time with the New England Patriots will come when he’s either released or traded in the next few weeks.
Insider Mike Reiss recently speculated that Harry was “in danger” of not making the 53-man roster, and shortly after his assessment, Harry’s agent requested the Patriots trade his client.
It’s all coming to a head. A resolution for both parties will feel an immeasurable weight lifted: one for Bill Belichick, who is watching the only receiver he’s selected in the first round fail miserably, and another for Harry, who desperately needs a fresh start elsewhere.
But it won’t be that easy, especially for the Patriots, who will be faced with a few financial implications should they part with Harry.
Here’s how a N’Keal Harry trade impacts the Patriots financially.
The good news is that the Patriots have a really good cap situation, even after all their spending. They still have over $19 million in space heading into 2021 and are projected to have around $30 million next offseason.
At this point, Harry is a sunk cost. There’s no denying that, even though one could argue he hasn’t had enough time to catch on. The fact of the matter is, first-round talents shouldn’t be having this much trouble.
So a $1.341 million cap charge for no longer having to be associated with the former Arizona State star is probably an amount Belichick can swallow without batting an eye. After all the negative headlines and speculation that have resulted from his presence have been much more problematic than a few million bucks.
Another positive here is that Harry’s requesting a trade when it was already assumed he was on the roster bubble. If you look at the 23-year-old’s time in New England, it’s mostly been characterized by injuries, an inability to get separation against opposing defensive backs, and a lack of an appropriate role in Josh McDaniels’ offense. Interested teams will likely want to capitalize on giving Harry a new setting to thrive in.
If the Patriots can get anything in return here, it’ll be a massive win. Though Harry’s largely been ineffective, there are a number of factors that have contributed to his disappointing 21-game stint in New England. If the Pats are going to lose that $2.68 million against the cap, they might as well get a late-round pick in return, which could be the case after Harry forcing their hand on Tuesday.