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Why New England Patriots receiver N'Keal Harry is publicly asking for a trade

After he was drafted in the first-round by the Patriots in 2019, N'Keal Harry wants out after a lack of production over his first two seasons.
Credit: AP
New England Patriots wide receiver N'Keal Harry walks on the sideline in the first half of an NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills, Monday, Dec. 28, 2020, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — A split between 2019 first round pick N'Keal Harry and the New England Patriots is looming after his agent said Tuesday that he has formally requested the team trade Harry.

This is certainly not a normal circumstance for a young NFL player like Harry and especially not normal for an organization like the New England Patriots.

Harry's agent Jamal Tooson released the following statement on Tuesday saying he believes it's best for both parties if Harry moves on before training camp after a lack of production in his first two seasons.

"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."

Locked On Patriots host Mike D'Abate joined the Locked On Today podcast to discuss the current situation in New England.

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The Patriots selected Harry with the 32nd overall pick in the 2019 draft. He played just seven games in his rookie season due to injuries and caught just 12 passes for 105 yards and two touchdowns. Last season in 14 games, he had 33 catches for 309 yards and two touchdowns.

"This just looked like a bad fit from the beginning," D'Abate said on the Locked On Today podcast. "I was actually one of the very few that was on board with N'Keal's pick when they made that back in 2019...But N'Keal never quite lived up to expectations. Some of that is on the way he was used, but some of that is on N'Keal as well. Having difficulty finding separation, trying to make a living on contested catches, jump balls. Not exactly the way you want your number one receiver to play."

These types of things didn't typically happen in the Patriots organization when the Tom Brady and Bill Belichick machine was running. Does this mean things are taking a turn for the worse in New England? D'Abate doesn't think so quite yet.

"I don't it's necessarily an indictment on Belichick/Brady era or the end of an era, I think it's just a bad fit at this point and probably N'Keal Harry trying to make the best of a situation and try to hook on to a team before training camp starts, that's why you're seeing the timing you're seeing," D'Abate said.

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As for what the Patriots could get in return for the former first-round pick is unclear, given his lack of production and request for a trade. 

"I think it's a situation where they're looking to cut their losses and try to recoup as much as they possibly can for N'Keal," D'Abate said. "There is some college pedigree there. I think that shouldn't be lost in the sea of negative press in New England."

Harry was a standout at Arizona State topping 1,000 receiving yards in each of his final two seasons. 

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