The final preseason game is in the books for the New England Patriots.
While things didn’t end well (New England was spanked 26-3 by the Las Vegas Raiders on Friday night), there is still some hope Bill Belichick and Co. can turn things around heading into the 2022 season.
Talk of the 53-man roster cutdown will dominate discussions about the Patriots and other NFL teams leading up to the deadline on August 30. There are some serious possibilities for a trade. Isaiah Wynn, New England’s starting left tackle for the past two years, has had his name thrown about in trade rumors the past month.
It would be no surprise if the Patriots elected to move him to add some draft assets and a bit of coin after parting ways with the fifth-year veteran. While Wynn is a potential trade candidate, could the same be said for running back, two-time team leader in rushing Damien Harris?
The 25-year-old is coming off a season where he fell just short of his first 1,000-yard season, but he did lead the team in TDs with 15. He’s tight with Mac Jones from their days as teammates in college with Alabama, but it appears second-year RB Rhamondre Stevenson is the future feature back for the Patriots.
Because of Harris’ age and his improving stats each of the first three years of his career, there is a chance he could fetch some attractive draft assets if the Patriots were open to RB-hungry teams contacting them about trade.
Heavy NFL insider Matt Lombardo was recently asked about the chances of the Patriots trading Damien Harris.
“Less Than a 10 Percent Chance” Patriots Deal Damien Harris, Says Lombardo
Lombardo gave a detailed answer to the inquiry in a recent edition of his mailbag series.
“The New England Patriots, of course, have a history of trading players as they approach the final year of their contract and are very high on second-year running back Rhamondre Stevenson, but because New England is paper-thin at the position, a Damien Harris trade would seem unlikely,” Lombardo wrote.
“New England has never featured a true workhorse, bell-cow type of running back, so a tandem of Harris and Stevenson could be how the ground game takes shape in the Bill Belichick-Matt Patricia-Joe Judge New Patriot Way offense.”
The pair combined for 1,535 yards and 20 TDs in 2021 with Harris contributing 929 yards and 15 TDs to those totals.
“There are teams that would make sense for Harris, especially the Las Vegas Raiders after releasing veteran Kenyan Drake, and the Eagles kicking the tires on veteran backs all offseason, and Harris could be an ideal fit for the New York Giants as an insurance policy on Saquon Barkley suffering another injury. But, running back just doesn’t feel like a position that teams are willing to trade assets to acquire. If I were a betting man, I’d say there’s less than a 10% chance that Harris is traded.”
Ty Montgomery’s Injury Complicates the Running Back Picture
Lombardo is likely spot-on with this take, and after his post went live, there were new events that exacerbate New England’s potential depth issues at RB. Veteran hybrid player Ty Montgomery was carted off the field in the final preseason game against the Raiders.
The severity of his injury wasn’t public as of Saturday evening, but losing him for any length of time would seemingly pump the breaks on any trade of a player at his position. It is still possible the Patriots could move Harris for draft assets while adding a cheaper option on the free-agent market to replace him on the depth chart.
Keep an eye on former Patriots running back Sony Michel if the Miami Dolphins cut him. Still, it is more likely New England employs a Harris-Stevenson two-headed monster with either Montgomery, rookie Pierre Strong Jr. or J.J. Taylor playing the passing-back role vacated by the retirement of injured veteran leader James White.