With training camp now two weeks away, the New England Patriots officially moved on from wide receiver N’Keal Harry, sending the 2019 first-round pick to the Chicago Bears for a 2024 seventh-round draft pick.
After requesting a trade last offseason, Harry remained on the roster and appeared in 12 games. Like the previous two years, however, he struggled to produce in the passing game, hauling in just 12 passes for 184 yards. While he found ways to contribute using his large frame in the run game, he officially ends his Patriots’ career with just 57 catches.
Entering this season, Harry had an uphill battle to make the team in a deep wide receiver room — especially after the Patriots brought in veteran DeVante Parker and rookie Tyquan Thornton this spring. So, with Harry now officially out of the picture, let’s take a look at the stacked depth chart that will be competing throughout camp.
Top of the depth chart
Jakobi Meyers, Kendrick Bourne, DeVante Parker, Tyquan Thornton, Nelson Agholor
The Patriots have done quite the job remodeling their wide receiver room over the past few seasons. While the group may lack a bona fide No. 1 option, it certainly does not lack talent, depth and versatility.
Meyers and Bourne are locked into 53-man spots, as Meyers has become a consistent threat out of the slot and Bourne showed glimpses of being the team’s best overall receiver last season. It would be no surprise to see his role grow in year two with the team. Parker will be penciled in as the X-receiver with his large frame where he’ll give Mac Jones an outside-the-numbers and jump-ball option.
Where things could get interesting is with Thornton and the veteran Agholor. Agholor’s first year with the team may have not been what they hoped for, but the veteran’s speed certainly stood above the rest of the roster. Now with Thornton and his 4.28 40-speed on the roster, a strong training camp could make Agholor — along with his $14.8 million cap hit — expendable. It’s not a guarantee, as Thornton certainly appears to be a raw project and Parker’s presence could open things up for Agholor, but it would likely be the only roster movement among this group.
Outside looking in
Tre Nixon, Kristian Wilkerson, Lil’Jordan Humphrey, Malcolm Perry, Ty Montgomery
Nixon’s name draws the attention in this group after the second-year receiver stole the show throughout minicamp and OTAs. Nixon and his 4.43 40-speed had strong chemistry with Mac Jones in training camp last season before spending the year on the practice squad. If he can continue his success when the pads come on in two weeks, perhaps he also plays a role in making a veteran like Agholor expandable.
It was also noteworthy that New England has been using Nixon in the slot despite most of his collegiate playing career coming on the outside. With Meyers set for free agency after this season, perhaps he is in their future plans at that position. Either way, New England would likely prefer to keep Nixon around for a second season in some capacity.
Beyond last year’s seventh-round pick, Wilkerson will have an uphill battle to remain with the team for a third-straight year. Wilkerson made the practice squad after a strong training camp performance last year before appearing in three games on the active roster.
The rest of the depth chart is rounded out by Humphrey, whose 6-foot-4 frame represents an intriguing camp body, and a pair of versatile athletes in Malcolm Perry and Ty Montgomery. Montgomery — who is listed as a running back on the team’s unofficial depth chart — could be in store for a Brandon Bolden-esque role this season.