The New England Patriots have reportedly traded wide receiver N’Keal Harry to the Chicago Bears in exchange for a seventh-round selection in the 2024 NFL Draft. It represents the official end of the road for Harry in Foxboro, who has earned the ever-dreaded ‘bust’ label despite being the No. 32 overall selection in the 2019 NFL Draft. Harry will now receive a much-needed change of scenery in Chicago.
Harry’s career failed to launch in New England and 2021 welcomed a new low for the former Arizona State product. In his third season, Harry matched a career-low 12 receptions for just 184 receiving yards and zero touchdowns. Harry was essentially a non-factor for the Patriots’ offense last season and there was even some chatter earlier this summer that the Patriots were considering moving Harry to tight end—that’s the level of desperation the situation had reached.
Harry likely wasn’t even going to make New England’s final 53-man roster in September. Jakobi Meyers, Nelson Agholor, the recently acquired DeVante Parker, Kendrick Bourne, and the recently drafted Tyquan Thornton were ahead of Harry on New England’s receiver depth chart. Harry doesn’t possess any upside as a special teams player, which means he was likely going to be released during the final round of cuts. Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick found a way to receive *something* (a seventh-rounder in 2024 is something, we guess) in return for Harry, but he won’t be forgiven for drafting him over the likes of Deebo Samuel, D.K. Metcalf, A.J. Brown, and Terry McLaurin. Yikes.
A contested-catch winner that struggles to separate from man coverage, Harry never quite acclimated to his surroundings in New England. Harry routinely looked overmatched while squaring off with better athletes and stiffer matchups from NFL-level cornerbacks. Harry was just another example in a long line of Belichick’s inability to identify, draft, and develop receivers with any sort of desired consistency.
In terms of receiving second chances, Harry couldn’t have landed in a better earn-it environment than the one Chicago should provide. New Bears General Manager Ryan Poles is in year one of what appears to be a lengthy and patient rebuild. Franchise quarterback Justin Fields provides the Bears faithful with plenty of appropriate optimism, but the Bears are still figuring out the supporting cast around him. That especially includes an abundance of questions at wide receiver, where the Bears arguably roster the least-desirable group to be found across the entire league.
Darnell Mooney is a prime breakout candidate following the departure of Allen Robinson, but who will start opposite Mooney on the boundary is a guessing game. Besides Mooney, Poles has accumulated the services of several reclamation projects this offseason, Harry now included. Harry should receive an honest opportunity to compete for snaps (and a roster spot) alongside the likes of fellow redemption-type talents such as Tajae Sharpe and Dante Pettis.
Byron Pringle and Equanimeous St. Brown are also in the mix, two players which previously failed to take advantage of the ideal situations they found themselves in with Kansas City and Green Bay respectively. Rookie Velus Jones Jr. is likely ahead of all of these players, given Poles and the Bears drafted him in the third round. Former North Carolina receiver Dazz Newsome also factors into the equation. With training camp soon marking its arrival, Chicago’s situation at receiver is a jumbled mess that got even more cluttered with the acquisition of Harry on Tuesday.
Quantity rarely equals quality. It’s a lesson the Bears appear stubborn enough to learn the hard way. Chicago will provide Harry with a last-ditch opportunity to revive his NFL career.
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