For the first time in his career, Damien Harris is facing an uncertain contractual future. Spending the last four seasons with the New England Patriots, the 2019 third-round draft choice will be headed for unrestricted free agency in March.
The situation is a new one for Harris, but he knows his preferred outcome: staying with the only pro football organization he knows. That said, the 25-year-old is well aware that there are two sides to this discussion.
“If they want to have me, I’d love to be back,” Harris told reporters following New England’s season-ending loss in Buffalo on Sunday. “But at the end of the day I know this is a business. This organization is going to do what they feel is best for them, and I have to do what I feel is best for me. So, we’ll see what happens.”
One of 22 Patriots players set to enter free agency, he will do so coming off what was a challenging individual season. Missing time with three different ailments — hamstring, illness, thigh — Harris ended the final year under his rookie deal as the No. 2 option at the running back position behind Rhamondre Stevenson.
When ready to take the field, he did prove himself a productive member of the Patriots’ offense, though. All in all, Harris carried the football 106 times for 462 yards and three touchdowns, ranking second on the team behind Stevenson in all three categories. He also caught an additional 17 passes for 97 yards.
While he was a very good rotational option, his future remains somewhat murky. New England, after all, has Stevenson on a cheap rookie contract of his own for two more years. Additionally, the team invested fourth- and sixth-round draft picks, respectively, in Pierre Strong Jr. and Kevin Harris last spring.
The Patriots will consider all of these factors when it comes to making an offer to Harris. Following the team’s final game of the year, however, his focus was elsewhere.
“I’m nor really worried about that right now,” he said. “Trying to enjoy this last opportunity with my teammates this year, and whatever happens next year, happens next year.”