FOXBORO, Mass. — New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick didn’t sound like someone planning to cut or trade N’Keal Harry when he addressed reporters Tuesday.
Harry is not viewed as a roster lock as the Patriots approach Tuesday afternoon’s 53-man cutdown deadline, but Belichick spoke highly of the third-year receiver during his morning news conference, saying he still expects a “big contribution” from Harry.
“I think N’Keal had a good camp,” Belichick said. “Last year was a lot different for all of us, so it’s hard to compare last year to anything, but really, just looking at this year, I thought N’Keal had a good camp. I’m glad we have him. I think he’ll make a big contribution to our team.
“We’ll see how it all goes and from a time standpoint of when he’ll be able to get back on the field. But I know he’s working hard and is making progress with his rehab. So we’ll just keep monitoring that and see how it goes.”
Harry was an early standout in training camp but had his preseason cut short after suffering a shoulder injury in New England’s second exhibition game. Initial reports indicated he would miss four weeks, sidelining him into the regular season.
A first-round draft pick in 2019, Harry posted underwhelming numbers in his first two NFL seasons (45 catches on 81 targets for 414 yards and four touchdowns in 21 games) and made headlines this offseason when his agent, Jamal Toosan, publicly requested a trade on the wideout’s behalf.
Belichick said he never spoke to Toosan.
“Look, whatever conversations are between agent, players, myself, those are all private conversations,” Belichick said. “… I never talked to his agent, all right? So you’d have to ask his agent whatever he did or didn’t say. I don’t even know. I’m a coach. N’Keal’s a player. I think we have a good player-coach relationship. We’ve talked. So whatever anyone else said or did or whatever, you should talk to them about that.”
The Patriots could choose to place Harry on injured reserve after cutdown day. Doing so would make him eligible to return in Week 4.
Jakobi Meyers, Nelson Agholor, Kendrick Bourne and special teams ace Matthew Slater are viewed as roster locks in the Patriots’ receiving corps, with Harry, Gunner Olszewski, Kristian Wilkerson and Isaiah Zuber competing for the final one or two spots.