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 added a few new wideouts during an offseason 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 $1.87M base salary in 2022. The Patriots will save around $1.2M by dealing him.
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 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 healthier 2020 (33 receptions, 309 yards, two touchdowns) did not stop Harry’s free fall, and the Patriots acquired Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne last year. That preceded a 12-catch Harry 2021 season and continued 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, a host of uncertainty resides. 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. The fourth-year pass catcher will have a stretch to impress a new Bears regime.