The New England Patriots have inquired about veteran pass rusher James Harrison, according to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler. Harrison finished the 2017 season on the Patriots roster and was the second-best pass rusher behind Trey Flowers.
James Harrison update: Waiting until after draft to sign somewhere, and key factor is getting on the field -- no Pittsburgh repeat, basically. Patriots are among handful of teams to inquire during free agency.— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) April 4, 2018
Harrison is not interested in signing with a team until the dust settles after the draft. He left the Pittsburgh Steelers halfway through the 2017 season because he was promised playing time, but ultimately stayed on the bench. He wants to join a team where he knows he’ll have a spot on the field, preferably in the top three of a rotation.
The Patriots might not be able to offer that anymore with the addition of Adrian Clayborn, the continued growth of Trey Flowers, Deatrich Wise, Adam Butler, Eric Lee, and Geneo Grissom, and the hopeful returns of Derek Rivers and Keionta Davis. Harrison would be in the top four or five of these players in 2018, but he might hold out to join a team with a more clear path to the field.
New England often expresses interest in veterans during free agency, but if they don’t sign immediately, then Bill Belichick and company immediately move on to Plan B, which very well could have been Clayborn.