Former Jets LB David Harris has reached agreement on a two-year deal with...the New England Patriots, source tells ESPN.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) June 21, 2017
Harris is a 10-year veteran and former second round pick out of Michigan that the Jets released on June 6th. He has long been a favorite player of Patriots head coach Bill Belichick.
“I have a lot of respect for David Harris,” Belichick expressed in December of 2014. “That guy, first of all, he never comes of the field- not just this year but any year. The guy is like a 98, 99 percent playtime player for them every year, year after year. It’s obviously a defense that has a lot of communication and adjustments, and he’s certainly at the center of that. Both as the signal caller and then at the line of scrimmage, you can see him adjusting the front or making some type of communication calls to his teammates. He’s a very instinctive player, which unfortunately we’ve seen that first-hand. He does a good job for them. He’s been very consistent, durable, dependable, productive over a long period of time.”
Harris finished the season as Pro Football Focus’ 35th ranked linebacker, including a 20th-place ranking in coverage. Our Jets site GangGreenNation.com called Harris “a reliable run stuffer.” He should compete with Kyle Van Noy to be a starter next to Dont’a Hightower as their skill sets are very complementary.
The former Jets captain has missed just one game over the past eight years and six games his entire career. That sort of availability is certainly attractive to Belichick and the Patriots defense, and the Patriots certainly did what they had to do to land the linebacker, per Pro Football Talk.
“The Patriots offered Harris more than the Jets did on a reduced deal, before the Jets cut him,” according to PFT’s Mike Florio. “Patriots coach Bill Belichick was one of six coaches who spoke with Harris last week. Ultimately, he chose to visit the Patriots today. And he signed with them today. The contract already has been negotiated; this was simply a matter of confirming that Harris and the Patriots are a fit.
“Harris, we’re told, doesn’t need the money,” Florio adds. “He’s playing at this point for love of game and legacy. He’ll have a chance to add to it with the Patriots, and he’ll have two shots at the Jets along the way.”
However I will always be hesitant when the Patriots add a veteran like Harris to the fold. He could become a contributor like Andre Carter or Gerard Warren- or he could be another Reggie Wayne that simply can’t make the team.
Update: MMQB’s Albert Breer and NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport have the contract details:
New Patriot LB David Harris got a two-year, $5 million deal. Up to $1.75 million in incentives. $1.25 million guaranteed.— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) June 21, 2017
While we need to wait and see how this contract is structured, the guaranteed money implies that Harris is a roster lock. This can still change if the $1.25 million describes the total guaranteed and not what is “guaranteed at signing.” This is possible if the guaranteed money is associated with a second-year option, which is likely in this case.
Still, an average of $2.5 million per year is an extremely team-friendly contract for a potential starting linebacker.