The New England Patriots have not been fortunate when it comes to selecting defensive backs on the second day of the draft, but they hit the bullseye when they picked Duron Harmon in the third round back in 2013: the Rutgers product went on to appear in 128 games over the next seven years, and as the team’s number three safety alongside Devin McCourty and Patrick Chung helped bring three championships to New England.
Along the way, he developed a reputation for making the big play — earning the nickname “The Closer” in the process. Whether it was his game-sealing interception in the 2014 divisional round playoff game against the Baltimore Ravens or his last-second pick to secure the Patriots’ win in a wild primetime contest in Pittsburgh during the 2017 regular season, Harmon regularly seemed to make game-changing plays in key situations.
The numbers back this up. Of his 21 career interceptions, 13 came in the fourth quarter. He also had a total of seven picks inside the two-minute warnings on either side of halftime. Add three recovered fumbles in combination with an important role that often saw him play as the last line of defense, and you see why the 29-year-old turned into a valuable player in the Patriots’ defense — one that may simply did his job well on a consistent basis.
In the future, however, he will do that in Detroit: earlier this week, New England traded Harmon and a seventh-round selection in this year’s draft to the Lions in return for a fifth-round pick. From the Patriots’ perspective, the trade resulted in a 63-spot jump on the third day of the draft as well as net salary cap savings of $3.89 million. It also opened a hole within the team’s secondary, though (albeit one that was addressed when it signed Adrian Phillips on Thursday).
Harmon, meanwhile, will change teams for the first time in his professional career and leave a New England area that he has called home since 2013 — something he pointed out in a statement released via social media shortly after the trade was made official:
Thank you, Pats Nation!
New England, you have been our home for the last seven years and I am honored to have played for and won three Super Bowl Championships with the New England Patriots. Thank you to the Kraft Family, Coach Belichick, my teammates and the entire organization for believing in me and supporting my career since drafting me in 2013. It has been an honor playing for such a world-class organization that has taught me so much about the game, what it takes to win championships and the importance of giving back to the community.
My wife, Christine and I raised our three boys in New England, and are so grateful for the wonderful community that has supported our family and our mission to give back. We will continue to raise awareness and be an advocate for Autism through initiatives that can help families no matter where we are.
I am looking forward to starting the next chapter of my career in Detroit and can’t wait to be back on the field!
Patriots Nation you will always have a place in my heart! Thank you.