After a season-ending injury to running back Damien Harris, the New England Patriots may be forced to part ways with him. If they decide not to re-sign Harris, he could find himself on his way out of town and into an opportunity that might pay more than one million dollars per year in salary.
The “Damien Harris” is a running back for the New England Patriots. The Pats have been trying to trade him since last season, but it has been difficult because of his high salary. If the Pats can’t find a trade partner, they may be forced to release Harris and let him walk in free agency. Read more in detail here: damien harris.
Damien Harris, a budding star for the New England Patriots, may soon become a victim of his own success. In fact, if the speedy, powerful running back repeats or improves on his breakout 2021 season, he may as well pack his belongings and look for a new home in the NFL.
After all, does anybody think Bill Belichick will pay top bucks to retain Harris in a Pats jersey for the foreseeable future?
Following a season in which he tied for second in the league with 15 running touchdowns and 929 yards on 202 attempts (4.6 yards per carry), the 2019 third-round selection enters the most important season of his pro career. Harris basically redshirted as a rookie before displaying interesting promise during the Patriots’ disappointing 2020 campaign.
In 2021, though, he remained reasonably healthy, establishing himself as one of the team’s most consistent and dynamic playmakers.
After the 2022 season, Damien Harris will be a free agent.
On December 6, 2021, Damien Harris of the New England Patriots warms up on the field before a game against the Buffalo Bills at Highmark Stadium | Timothy T. Ludwig/Getty Images
Harris has placed himself in good position to cash in on the Patriots’ dreadful 2019 draft class as one of the few bright spots. Following coming just shy of 1,000 running yards last season, the 25-year-old will be a free agency after the 2022 season, and he should have plenty of reason to do so in his fourth year in Foxborough.
However, if Harris scores double-digit touchdowns and establishes himself as a top-10 back, he might be another local talent who leaves New England for brighter pastures.
With a salary hit of under $1.186 million, Harris will give Belichick exactly what he wants: value. Ezekiel Elliott of the Dallas Cowboys, on the other hand, has a cap hit of $18.22 million in 2022. Luckily for the Patriots, they have a dynamic RB1 with a deal that ranks 76th among running back contracts.
With the league’s finest running backs commanding yearly salaries of more than $12 million, it’s difficult to see a value-driven general manager like Belichick sacrificing a major amount of the salary cap on that position. Harris has Pro Bowl potential, and his leadership and attitude have gained him tremendous respect inside the organization. However, investing so much money in a back would be a poor financial decision.
In Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson, the Patriots have two starting-caliber running backs.
The appearance of Rhamondre Stevenson adds to the intrigue of the scenario. The Patriots have two starting-caliber running backs thanks to Belichick, the general manager, who finally got it right in the 2021 draft.
Indeed, one might argue that Stevenson has a higher ceiling than his senior colleague. On only 133 runs, the former Oklahoma star racked up 606 yards and five touchdowns, raising eyebrows with his rare mix of strength and quickness. Stevenson, who stands 6 feet 227 pounds and weighs 227 pounds, grabbed 14 of 18 targets for 123 yards.
Above all, the gifted second-year pro has what Belichick adores: a low-cost deal. Stevenson has a $1.012 million cap charge in 2022 after only costing $847,264 against the cap as a rookie. In both 2023 and 2024, that sum will be less than $1.25 million.
In other words, the Patriots have locked up a potential star for three full seasons at an absurdly low cost.
With Stevenson on the horizon for a bigger role in 2022, it’ll be intriguing to watch how the front office handles Harris’ contract this summer. Will the Patriots attempt to get him to accept a lower-than-market contract before the start of the season? Is it even possible for them to keep him? Will they wait until the summer to discuss Harris’ future, or will they let the scenario play out? They may also consider a trade to recover draft compensation.
Finally, Stevenson’s skill set and low rookie contract, along with the fact that the Patriots picked two running backs last month, bodes badly for fans hoping to see No. 37 next to Mac Jones in 2023.
Harris’ economics just do not work in his advantage. And, unless Belichick abandons his long-held concept of maximizing value, it seems that the guard at running back will change sooner rather than later.
Only time will tell whether Damien Harris’ stint with the Patriots comes to an end before he becomes a free agent.
Pro Football Reference provided the stats, while Spotrac provided the contract information.
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