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Patriots trade safety Duron Harmon, seventh-round draft pick to the Lions for fifth-round selection

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Update 3/19/2020: Patriots trade safety Duron Harmon, seventh-round draft pick to the Lions for fifth-round selection

While no terms of the trade were disclosed when it was initially announced by the Patriots shortly after the news initially broke on Wednesday, NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported the details of the transaction on Thursday morning: New England sent not just Duron Harmon to Detroit, but also a seventh-round pick in this year’s draft (No. 235). The Lions, meanwhile, gave the Patriots a fifth-round selection (No. 172) in return.

From the perspective of Harmon’s old team, the trade therefore essentially is a 63-spot jump on the third day of the draft in combination with $3.89 million in salary cap savings.

Original story 3/18/2020: Patriots reportedly trade safety Duron Harmon to the Lions

The New England Patriots’ offseason already saw the departures of linebackers Kyle Van Noy and Jamie Collins, as well as defensive tackle Danny Shelton. Now, another veteran member of the best scoring defense in football last year will be gone: according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, New England will trade safety Duron Harmon to the Detroit Lions for what is expected to be draft selections, per the Boston Globe’s Jim McBride.

Harmon originally joined the Patriots as a third-round draft pick in 2013 and quickly carved out a role as a valuable rotational member in the team’s secondary — one that showcased a knack for the big play, hence earning the nickname “The Closer” in New England. For most of his time with the organization, the 29-year-old served as the third safety behind Devin McCourty and Patrick Chung, earning three Super Bowl rings in that role.

In 2019, Harmon again saw considerable playing time and finished the year with 17 in-game appearances and a playing-time share of 65.6% (702 of 1,070) — the seventh highest on the team. New England used the veteran safety in his usual role: he played as a deep centerfielder either alongside McCourty or the lone deep man. As such, Harmon registered three interceptions and did not surrender a touchdown.

The Rutgers product ends his Patriots tenure with 128 in-game appearances, and will open up a hole in what has been the deepest secondary in football last year. While not a starting member per se, Harmon offered quality depth and leadership on the defensive side of the ball. With him now gone, McCourty and Chung will continue to form the core of New England’s safety position but the depth behind them is down to Terrence Brooks and a bunch of unproven players (Obi Melifonwu, Malik Gant, Adarius Pickett).

Sending Harmon, who was entering a contract year, to Detroit and having another player take his spot on the list of the top-51 contracts creates $3.89 million in additional salary cap space for the Patriots to work with.