While standard rookie contracts are four years for NFL Draft picks, first-round picks have a fifth-year team option built into their contracts. Teams must decide on those options heading into the players’ fourth year. For the 2019 draft class, the deadline for teams to decide on that option was Monday.
For the Patriots, that meant making a decision on wide receiver N’Keal Harry, who was the 32nd overall pick that year. According to PFF’s Ari Meirov, the Patriots have declined the option on Harry. Had the Patriots picked up the option, it would have had Harry make $12.4 million in 2023.
Harry has struggled to stay on the field and produce since his rookie season. In three years in the NFL he’s played in 33 games, recording 57 catches for 598 yards and four touchdowns. In 12 games in 2021, he caught 12 passes for 184 yards without a score.
Heading into last season Harry’s agent released a statement saying that the 24-year-old wideout wanted to be traded, although nothing ever came of it. Earlier this offseason, it was reported Harry and the Patriots were working together on a trade, with NFL Network’s Mike Giardi reporting as recently as Sunday that Harry “is very much available.”
If he isn’t traded, Harry will face significant competition for a roster spot in training camp. The Patriots have made significant investments in two perimeter receivers this offseason, trading a third-round pick for DeVante Parker and using a second-round pick to draft Tyquan Thornton. Last year’s leading receivers Jakobi Meyers, Kendrick Bourne, and Nelson Agholor are also all returning.
The NFL first implemented the fifth-year option for the 2011 draft class, with these decisions being on the table since 2014. In that time, the Patriots have made eight first-round picks. Of those eight, four options were picked up and four were declined,
Because the Patriots traded out of the first round in 2020, they don’t have a fifth-year option to decide on next year. Their next option on the books is Mac Jones’ in 2024.