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ATLANTA, GEORGIA - FEBRUARY 03: Duron Harmon #21 of the New England Patriots reacts against the Los Angeles Rams during the second half during Super Bowl LIII at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on February 03, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com

As first reported by the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the Patriots are trading veteran safety Duron Harmon to the Detroit Lions. It will be a swap of late-round draft picks.

Harmon leaves behind seven seasons in New England, missing just one game along the way and providing valuable depth and locker room leadership in the secondary. Harmon started 29 of a possible 112 games as a reliable backup to Devin McCourty in the back end of the Pats’ defense.

Harmon also played in 17 playoff games (six starts) for the Patriots and was a part of three Super Bowl-winning defenses in 2014, 2016, and 2018. He earned the endearing nickname “The Closer” as he showed a knack for reeling in last-minute interceptions against desperate quarterbacks at the end of wins. Harmon totaled 17 interceptions and 28 total passes defensed in 111 regular season games.

Originally drafted by the Patriots in the third round of the 2013 NFL Draft, Harmon reunites with Lions head coach Matt Patricia, where he served as Harmon’s defensive coordinator for six seasons in New England.

The trade works in both teams’ favor for various reasons. Harmon would have cost $5.75 million against the cap in 2020 (via Boston Sports Journal’s Miguel Benzan). Trading him creates $1.25 million in dead money, saving $4.5 million in both real money and cap space.

For the Lions, they’re making the same kind of deal that the Patriots have in recent years. In acquiring a player as part of a swap of late draft picks as opposed to a free-agent signing, the Lions circumvent the NFL’s compensatory pick formula. The Lions and Patriots have both avoided major deals on the open market to start NFL free agency.

The deal looks like a win-win for both sides, especially as the Patriots brought back Devin McCourty and gave him a raise with a two-year deal worth up to $23 million. And now it makes sense to start looking toward the future at the safety position.

Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at matthew.dolloff@bbgi.com.