N’Keal Harry has struggled to impact the NFL field since being selected with the 32nd overall pick of the 2019 NFL Draft. After asking for a trade, things are going on behind the scenes that will limit his options.

News broke yesterday afternoon that former New England Patriots’ first-round receiver N’Keal Harry has requested a trade to leave Bill Belichick’s team and seek greener pastures somewhere else in the NFL. Harry was selected in 2019 with the 32nd overall pick, Belichick’s handpicked man over receivers who Patriots scouts favored, such as AJ Brown and DK Metcalf. Harry has not panned out at the next level.

His agent, Jamal Tooson, announced Harry’s intentions to leave the team on Tuesday. His full statement read:

For the past several months, I have been working in cooperation with the Patriots behind the scenes to put a plan in place to allow N’Keal to thrive in New England. Through two seasons, he has 86 targets, which obviously hasn’t met the expectations the Patriots and N’Keal had when they drafted a dominant downfield threat who was virtually unstoppable at the point of attack in college. Following numerous conversations with the Patriots, I believe it’s time for a fresh start and best for both parties if N’Keal moves on before the start of training camp. That is why I have informed the Patriots today I am formally requesting a trade on behalf of my client.

N’Keal understands a key ingredient to production is opportunity. He will continue to work hard to develop and refine his craft after missing a large portion of his rookie year to injury. His draft-day expectations for his NFL career have not changed. We are confident success is just around the corner for him and will aggressively pursue it.

Jamal Tooson, representative for N’Keal Harry, July 6th, 2021.

There’s more to the N’Keal Harry story

There has been some ice around N’Keal Harry as he has been disgruntled in the Patriots system for quite some time. During the 2020 season, Harry’s trainer, Rischad Whitfield, spoke out publicly against quarterback Cam Newton.

“We’ve got to put some of that shit on Cam,” Whitfield was quoted saying. “Cam hasn’t been the most accurate this year. Like, if he had Tom Brady, Tom Brady would’ve fed him. But we’re back here with Cam and Cam’s getting acclimated to the offense too.”

Harry responded by telling the media he talked to Newton and explained that it wasn’t coming from him. Whitfield himself said he was misquoted. Who really knows? We know that other NFL clubs started reaching out about a potential trade for Harry in March when the Patriots signed several receivers early in free agency.

Reports indicate that Harry did not put the work in

Harry has been disgruntled for a while. I spoke briefly about it in a tweet, pointing out that Harry had been a trade token when the Patriots negotiated a potential trade with the Atlanta Falcons for Julio Jones. The deal ultimately fell through when the Falcons realized that they didn’t have to eat cap space to move Jones.

Some Patriots fans on social media were upset with my tweet, saying he “isn’t good.” They said it had nothing to do with the Belichick way. Only Cam Newton himself gently pushed the receiver on an appearance of I Am Athlete back in February.

I do think – Doughboy I call him – N’Keal Harry if he would battle… You know what I’m saying? You know, there’s a real thing when they say ‘The New England Way,’ ‘The Patriot Way.’

Cam Newton on I Am Athlete, February 22nd, 2021.

It’s hard for a young guy to come into New England if their work ethic is somewhat questionable. Bill Belichick demands much of his players, and when things don’t go well, players feel as though they aren’t getting much back in return. This isn’t an excuse for Harry, rather, an acknowledgment that perhaps he doesn’t have the temperament for the NFL.

What does N’Keal Harry offer as a trade piece?

I don’t believe that N’Keal Harry has much trade value currently. Yes, he’s a young, first-round receiver, but he hasn’t shown much of anything in his first two seasons for NFL teams to get excited about. With Newton’s gentle admonishment and the off-field issues that the people around him have created, it’s easy to see why other clubs would hesitate to give anything for him.

The positional value of the wide receiver is declining as well. There is so much talent across the board that if you can’t stand out quickly, you don’t make it in this league. Harry, unfortunately, is in this position now as well.

Considering just how long it’s taken the Patriots to move him at this point, I would say that they are probably expecting too high a return to move him quickly. They’ll have to come down in the price an opposing team will have to pay before a trade goes down.

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By John Vogel

NFL Draft Analyst. Dad.

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