AUGUST 11: The recently traded wide receiver is undergoing surgery to address his ankle issue Thursday, Mike Garafolo of NFL.com tweets. Harry is now expected to miss around two months of action. The Bears could stash Harry on IR to begin the season, though teams are a bit more limited regarding IR maneuvering compared to 2020 and ’21. Teams have eight IR-return designations to use this season.
AUGUST 7: N’Keal Harry‘s second NFL chapter has taken an unfortunate turn before even beginning. The newly acquired wideout suffered an ankle injury which “appears severe,” reports ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler (Twitter link).
NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reports that Harry suffered a high ankle sprain (video link). Further confirmation and testing will be done, but that should leave him sidelined for roughly six weeks.
The injury was sustained yesterday, and Fowler adds that further evaluation will be needed to determine its severity. This represents a significant blow for the former first-rounder. In 33 games with the Patriots, including 18 starts, he totaled just 57 catches and less than 600 receiving yards.
Those disappointing numbers led to speculation that his tenure in New England could end before his rookie contract did. The free agent signings of Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne last offseason, along with the additions of Tyquan Thornton in the draft and DeVante Parker via trade this year, put the Arizona State product’s roster spot in jeopardy. The Patriots did indeed move on in July, sending Harry to the Bears for a 2024 seventh-round pick.
The 6-foot-4, 225-pounder would have had a much better chance at carving out a role for himself in Chicago, whose receiving corps lost Allen Robinson in free agency. Outside of Darnell Mooney, the rebuilding squad lacks established playmakers on the perimeter, and will to turn to the likes of Byron Pringle and rookie Velus Jones Jr. in the event Harry misses significant time.
Being sidelined for a lengthy stretch will also have financial consequences for Harry. One season away from free agency, 2022 represented an opportunity to re-build some of his value with a strong campaign in Chicago. While that may still be possible, the chances of him being able to to so have taken a significant hit.