Never underestimate the power of influence.
Will Cam Newton be back as the New England Patriots’ quarterback in 2021? N’Keal Harry sure hopes so.
The much-maligned first-round pick from the 2019 NFL Draft is heading into his third season, which will likely be a make-or-break campaign for him. Harry made it clear with plenty on the line he’d love to have Newton throwing him the ball in 2021.
Harry told Nicole Yang of the Boston Globe, he “would absolutely love to have” Newton back in 2021. Harry and Newton seemed to bond early in the season, and that apparently grew throughout what proved to be a tough year for all involved.
“He helped me so much throughout the season, not only on the field with football stuff but with off-the-field stuff, just more about being a professional, about life,” Harry told Yang. “He really helped me in all aspects of life last year, so I really do appreciate him for that.”
Harry also called Newton a “very fun person to play with,” who brought a certain vibe and energy with him into the locker room. For a young player like Harry who is trying to find his footing, that kind of comfort is important.
Some may not put a lot of stock in Harry’s take on desire to have Newton return, but no matter what you think of the young receiver, you cannot ignore the impact the 2015 NFL MVP seems to have on his teammates.
Remember, Patriots captain Devin McCourty also expressed his desire to see Newton return as well.
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Harry Needs a Huge Year
After two underwhelming seasons, Harry is arguably the Patriots player with the most to prove heading into the 2021 season. The 23-year-old has missed 11 games in his two-year career. In 21 games, Harry has just 45 receptions for 309 yards and two touchdowns.
Those totals pale compared to other receivers drafted after Harry in 2019, like the Seattle Seahawks’ DK Metcalf and the Tennessee Titans’ A.J. Brown. Harry’s slow development is one of the biggest reasons for the Patriots’ struggles in the passing game.
He was drafted to become the No. 1 receiver who commanded attention from opposing defenses that makes other guys’ jobs easier. That hasn’t happened. Quite honestly, if Harry doesn’t show the Patriots coaching staff something early, he could find himself released as New England looks for playmakers.
The Patriots Need Newton
Without Tom Brady on the roster, the Patriots don’t have many players who would be considered a draw for potential free agents. Despite all of his critics, Newton has the kind of an effect on his peers.
New England will have more than $60 million to spend on free agents, but if they’re in a bidding war with a team, the Patriots mystique that used to convince guys to play in Foxborough for less is gone.
Newton has the charisma and attitude that attracts players, and during this offseason, when signing free agent weapons in the passing game will be important, Newton’s presence could be gold.
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