N’Keal Harry

Bears Activate WR N’Keal Harry From IR

The N’Keal Harry-era is about ready to begin in Chicago. After three seasons in New England, and a short stint on injured reserve to begin the 2022 NFL season, Harry will finally get to wear a second NFL jersey after being activated from the team’s IR, according to Bears senior writer Larry Mayer. 

The former first-round pick for the Patriots was acquired by the Bears in July in exchange for a 2024 seventh-round draft pick. He had requested a trade from New England just over a year before the trade came but was forced to play out the 2021 season with the Patriots. In three seasons with the Patriots, Harry played in 33 games, catching 57 passes for 598 yards and four touchdowns.

Thus far, injuries have played a significant role in Harry’s young career. The 24-year-old has yet to play a full season in the NFL, missing at least three games each season. His best season came when he appeared in 14 games, hauling in 33 passes for 309 yards and two touchdowns.

The big-bodied wide receiver should be granted an immediate opportunity to contribute in a Bears’ wide receiver room that lacks star talent. Harry should, at the very least, be in the rotation as a top-four receiver on the team, ahead of Ihmir Smith-Marsette and rookie Velus Jones, as well as Byron Pringle who was placed on IR two weeks ago.

The addition provides second-year quarterback Justin Fields with two options each for two types of receivers. Leading receiver Darnell Mooney and talented return man Dante Pettis function as smaller, speedier possession and deep ball receivers. Harry joins Equanimeous St. Brown as a second massive target that can be a matchup nightmare for jumpballs and the endzone.

Harry, who returned to practice last Wednesday, will hope to get quickly up to speed. He’ll be available for Chicago’s Thursday night football game this week against the Commanders, then he’ll get a week and a half to prepare for his return trip to New England.

Minor NFL Transactions: 9/1/22

Teams continue to tinker with their rosters after hundreds of players were cut earlier this week. We’ve tracked all of today’s minor moves below:

Arizona Cardinals

Atlanta Falcons

Baltimore Ravens

Chicago Bears

Cincinnati Bengals

Dallas Cowboys

Denver Broncos

Green Bay Packers

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars

Los Angeles Rams

Miami Dolphins

New England Patriots

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

New York Jets

Pittsburgh Steelers

San Francisco 49ers

Seattle Seahawks

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tennessee Titans

Bears’ N’Keal Harry Undergoes Surgery

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 Mooneythe 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.

Bill Belichick’s Success (Or Lack Thereof) With WR Draft Picks

When the Patriots chose N’Keal Harry during the 2019 draft, it was the first time the organization had selected a first-round WR during Bill Belichick‘s reign. Fast forward three years, and the Patriots pawned off Harry for a seventh-round selection.

[RELATED: Bears To Acquire N’Keal Harry From Patriots]

Doug Kyed of Pro Football Focus recently explored Harry’s struggles in New England and what ultimately led to his trade to the Bears. This naturally led to another (and persistent) story of Belichick’s inability to find production from his receiver draft picks. Since Belichick took over in 2000, the Patriots have used 19 draft picks on the position. As Kyed notes, only three of those players (Deion Branch, David Givens, and Julian Edelman) started more than 20 games in the NFL. About half of those picks were selected in the fourth round or earlier, and many (like Harry) struggled to ever carve out a role in New England’s offense.

As sources told Kyed, part of this is on the Patriots’ strict offense and their unwillingness to tolerate rookie mistakes:

  • “Just picking up the system that has been in place for 20 years and the type of routes and adjustments. Sometimes they just need to get the best damn players the ball and not be cute.”
  • “It borders on impossibility for a guy fresh out of college.”
  • “New England is a tough place for young players, not just because of the terminology, but it’s because if you mess up, you’re out. They’ll pull you out of the game.”

Now, Harry’s inability to stick in New England can’t be entirely put on the organization; sources also attributed Harry’s failures to a lack of maturity, work ethic, and commitment. Still, looking at Belichick’s list of WR draft picks is a bit damning:

Branch and Edelman were both Super Bowl MVPs. Givens was one of Tom Brady‘s preferred targets for a bit, and Matthew Slater eventually became a ST ace. Otherwise, the team’s best picks at the position are probably Braxton Berrios and Brandon Tate, who both experienced NFL success outside of New England, and/or Malcolm Mitchell and Aaron Dobson, who combined for 1,099 career receiving yards.

Of course, even outside of Belichick’s Super Bowl rings, it’s hard to be too critical. While you could attribute much of the Patriots’ offensive success to Brady, it was still Belichick who brought in a revolving door of receivers via trade (highlighted by Randy Moss and Wes Welker) and free agency (including the likes of Danny Amendola and Brandon Lloyd). He also hit on his tight ends (led by Rob Gronkowski) and pass-catching backs (led by James White). Belichick even got some production from UDFAs, most recently Jakobi Meyers. Sure, he burned plenty of draft picks at the position, but it wasn’t like he completely compromised Brady’s receiving corps.

Brady and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels are now out of the picture. It will be intersting to see how a young receiver like second-round rookie Tyquan Thornton will fare alongside quarterback Mac Jones and a revamped offensive coaching staff guided by former defensive coordinator Matt Patricia and former special teams coordinator Joe Judge. As Kyed notes, Belichick has mentioned a desire to “streamline” the offense heading into the 2022 campaign, and that potential change in mentality could have an impact on young receivers going forward.

Bears To Acquire N’Keal Harry From Patriots

After spending nearly 18 months in trade rumors, N’Keal Harry has a new home. The Patriots are sending the former first-round pick to the Bears, Mike Garafolo and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com report (on Twitter).

The Bears have added a few new wideouts this offseason, one in which they said goodbye to Allen Robinson after four years. They will take a shot with Harry, who is going into a contract year.

The Bears will send a 2024 seventh-round pick to the Pats, Rapoport tweets. Harry is due a $1.87MM base salary in 2022. The Patriots will save around $1.2MM by dealing him. This will provide a bit of breathing room for the Patriots, who entered Tuesday with the least amount of cap room — under $2MM.

Considering Harry’s status as the highest-drafted wideout in Bill Belichick‘s 23-offseason Patriots tenure, his New England career and this trade return represent a massive disappointment. The Pats had traded for DeVante Parker and traded up for wideout Tyquan Thornton in this year’s second round. Harry had been moved off the radar and, after a recent report that indicated the Pats could excuse the injury-prone receiver from training camp or drop him ahead of that point, the Bears moved in to see if a rebound of some sort can commence.

Acquired ahead of Tom Brady‘s final Patriots season, Harry missed most of that turbulent year for the Pats’ receiving corps. The Pats had Josh Gordon, Antonio Brown and Mohamed Sanu on their roster at points that season, but the year unfolded with scant Harry involvement. A preseason ankle injury limited Harry to seven games in 2019. He missed five last season, with shoulder and knee maladies sidelining him. A healthier 2020 (33 receptions, 309 yards, two touchdowns) did not stop Harry’s freefall, and the Patriots acquired Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne last year. That preceded a 12-catch Harry 2021 season and persistent trade/cut rumors.

While this wraps another Belichick-era draft miss at the receiver position, the Bears feature a less settled pass-catching corps. Behind Darnell Mooney, uncertainty resides ahead of Luke Getsy‘s first OC season.. Chicago signed Byron Pringle, Equanimeous St. Brown, Dante Pettis, David Moore and Tajae Sharpe this offseason and used a third-round pick on Velus Jones. At 25, Jones is several months older than Harry, who will turn 25 in December.

Beyond Mooney and Jones, the Bears are taking a number of fliers. They will get one of the NFL’s biggest receivers in this trade. Harry goes 6-foot-4, 225 pounds. He ended his Arizona State career with back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons and became the 32nd overall pick in 2019. Harry was that year’s second wide receiver selected, after only Marquise Brown. His going ahead of Deebo Samuel, A.J. Brown, D.K. Metcalf, Terry McLaurin and Diontae Johnson both reflected poorly on the Patriots and reveals the receiver talent that can be had beyond Round 1. But the fourth-year pass catcher will have a stretch to impress a new Bears regime.

Latest On Patriots, N’Keal Harry

After an offseason in which the Patriots signed Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne, the team made more changes in 2022 by trading for DeVante Parker and drafting Tyquan Thornton in the second round. This quartet and Jakobi Meyers, whom the team kept via second-round RFA tender, are in line to be Mac Jones‘ top receivers this season.

This means more uncertainty for N’Keal Harry, whose days with the Pats appear numbered. Last month, a report emerged the Patriots were considering moving the underwhelming ex-first-rounder to tight end. Now, the team might finally be considering cutting its losses.

The team waiving Harry of training camp should be viewed as in play, Ben Volin of the Boston Globe notes, given the offset language included in the fourth-year pass catcher’s rookie deal. The Pats have dangled Harry in trades for multiple years. As several receiver standouts chosen after Harry in 2019 have thrived, some en route to big 2022 paydays and others on clear courses for lucrative deals down the road, the big-bodied Pats target has not found his footing.

New England would likely accept a late-round pick-swap trade, one that would send Harry and a Day 3 choice to another team for a Day 3 selection, to save $1.2MM against its 2022 cap, Volin adds. The Pats hold a league-low $1.9MM in cap space. The prospect of the Patriots excusing Harry from training camp while working on a trade, in order to keep the Arizona State product healthy, could also be considered. Harry missed extensive time due to injury in 2019 and ’21, hitting IR in each season.

Harry caught 12 passes for 184 yards last season. He is due a $1.87MM base salary in 2022. Although a combination of receiver-needy teams and Harry’s draft pedigree likely leads to another shot elsewhere, Harry trade rumors have churned since March 2021. However this chapter ends for the 225-pound wideout, the value of Bill Belichick‘s highest-drafted receiver as Patriots HC/de facto GM has tanked over the past three years.

Latest On Patriots’ N’Keal Harry

Given the returning players at the receiver position in New England, along with newcomers DeVante Parker and Tyquan Thornton, much has been talked about regarding what future N’Keal Harry has on the team, if any. As noted by ESPN’s Mike Reiss, a position change could be in order for him to remain on the roster. 

[RELATED: Harry On His Way Out Of New England?]

An important return to the practice field is upcoming, as the team’s mandatory minicamp begins next week. That will mark Harry’s first work with the team since the end of the season, as he has been absent from the voluntary portion of offseason activities. During that time, his agent has reportedly been working on facilitating a trade out of New England.

The final first round pick of the 2019 draft, Harry hasn’t lived up to the expectations he has faced during his NFL tenure. His best season came in 2020, when he posted 33 receptions for 309 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Last year, though, after New England brought in Kendrick Bourne and Nelson Agholor in free agency, he started just four contests and played less than half of the team’s offensive snaps. Despite his lackluster production, there were teams reported to be interested in trading for him.

Doing so would involve a degree of risk of course, but since the Patriots – as expected – declined Harry’s fifth-year option, an acquiring team would only be adding him for one season. Improving his statistical production during the upcoming campaign would be crucial for the 24-year-old heading into free agency. There could still be a path for him to make the Patriots out of training camp, though.

Reiss writes that converting from receiver to tight end might be the Arizona State alum’s “best chance” to catch on to the end of the roster. If he were able to do that, he would still find stiff competition for playing time in the form of Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith, to whom New England doled out lucrative contracts last offseason. Harry could find himself third on the depth chart, however, as 2020 third-rounders Devin Asiasi and Dalton Keene have had similarly disappointing careers to date.

How Harry performs next week – and, perhaps more importantly, where he lines up in practice – will therefore be a key storyline to watch in New England.

WR Rumors: McLaurin, Parker, Harry

The 2019 draft was rife with wide receiver talent, and a few WRs from that class — the 49ers’ Deebo Samuel, the Titans’ A.J. Brown, the Seahawks’ D.K. Metcalf, and the Commanders’ Terry McLaurin — have been prominently featured in PFR pages in recent weeks. That is largely because those players are extension-eligible for the first time this offseason, and they have all done enough in their first three professional seasons to command massive multi-year extensions.

Samuel, Brown, and McLaurin have elected to sit out at least the on-field portion of their teams’ offseason programs in their pursuit of new contracts, though Samuel is the only member of that trio to request a trade at this point. McLaurin, who has career averages of 1,030 receiving yards per year and 13.9 yards per reception despite a less-than-ideal QB situation, has not been mentioned as a trade candidate, and Washington head coach Ron Rivera said in February that he hopes to hammer out a new contract for McLaurin sooner rather than later.

The Commanders’ OTAs begin on May 23, and the club wants McLaurin on the field no later than that in order to start building chemistry with new QB Carson Wentz. ESPN’s Dianna Russini hears from her sources that a deal will indeed get done.

Now for more WR news and notes:

  • Shortly after the trade that sent DeVante Parker from the Dolphins to the Patriots, we heard that, while a number of other clubs were pursuing Parker, the 2015 first-rounder wanted to be dealt to New England. Albert Breer of SI.com confirms as much, and he passes along a quote from Parker himself. “I chose to get traded [to the Patriots],” Parker said. “My agent hit me up, just telling me what the situation was, and the options I had for the teams to go to. The first on my list was the Patriots. I’m just excited we were able to get everything done.” It is notable that the Dolphins not only allowed Parker a say in his next destination, but were willing to deal him to a division rival.
  • N’Keal Harry, a less successful member of the above-referenced 2019 class of wide receivers, may have been on his way out of New England even before the Patriots acquired Parker, but the Parker trade seemed to definitively signal an end to Harry’s tenure in Foxborough. He remains on the roster for now, but Mike Reiss of ESPN.com writes that the Arizona State product was not with the team for the start of the offseason program last week. Harry’s agent says his client is training away from the team facilities, and that he and the Patriots continue to have “positive dialogue” about a potential trade (Twitter link via Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network). 2022 will be a critical season for Harry, whose fifth-year option will almost certainly be declined and who will therefore be eligible for free agency next year.
  • The Jets are said to be “all in” on Samuel, but the 49ers are reportedly not even entertaining trade offers at this time.
  • Titans head coach Mike Vrabel has said Brown isn’t going anywhere, and it sounds as if Tennessee may have offered the 2020 Pro Bowler an extension with a $20MM AAV. Even if that’s the case, we do not know any of the more important details like guarantees and cash flow, and it sounds like there is still plenty of negotiating to be done before Brown puts pen to paper.

N’Keal Harry On His Way Out Of New England?

The Patriots made a rare trade within their division over the weekend, adding DeVante Parker to their receiving corps. One of the potential effects of that move is the end of N’Keal Harry‘s tenure in New England, as noted by ESPN’s Mike Reiss

[RELATED: Dolphins Trade Parker To Patriots]

Reiss writes that the addition of Parker “likely means the end of the road for” Harry with the Patriots. The six-foot-three Parker profiles as a direct replacement for Harry, who has never translated his contested-catch ability from college to the NFL. In 33 games, the former first-rounder has totalled 57 receptions for 598 yards and four touchdowns.

Even without Parker being brought in, Harry found himself behind Jakobi MeyersKendrick Bourne and Nelson Agholor on the depth chart. That led many to believe that the Patriots were likely to decline his fifth-year option later this spring, which would signal a departure sooner than later through free agency.

However, it was reported last month that the Arizona State alum was drawing trade interest. Teams looking to at least add depth to their WR room before the draft could find a spot for the 24-year-old, and with the Patriots having added Parker (and, quite possibly, looking to select another WR early in this month’s draft), he could likely be had for a reasonable trade price.

While nothing is imminent regarding Harry’s future (or lack thereof) in New England, he could very well find himself in a new NFL home relatively soon.

Teams Showing Interest In Patriots WR N’Keal Harry

Despite an invisible stint in New England, wideout N’Keal Harry is still generating some interest around the NFL. According to Pro Football Focus’ Doug Kyed (on Twitter), “teams have shown recent interest” in the former first-round pick, and the receiver is “a potential trade candidate before the draft.”

The 2019 first-round pick hasn’t clicked with any of New England’s three QBs (Tom Brady, Cam Newton, Mac Jones) during his three seasons in the league. In 33 games (18 starts), Harry has hauled in 57 receptions for 598 yards and four touchdowns. The 6-foot-4, 225-pound receiver has earned some high marks for his blocking, but he’d still be a bottom-of-the-depth-chart option for most teams.

New England will eventually have to make a decision on the receiver’s fifth-year option, but there’s little chance it’ll be picked up. Harry has a $3.2MM cap hit in 2022.