Looking at the New England Patriots roster from a season ago the one gray area you could look at that was in desperate need for depth was Linebacker. Head Coach Bill Belichick re-signed Dont’a Hightower this off-season when many thought the veteran was on his way out of town and has now seemingly stole another motivated veteran off the open market.
Yesterday, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that the Patriots were signing former New York Jets linebacker David Harris to a two-year deal. NFL Netowork’s Ian Rappoport reported that the deal was for a base value of $5M with $1.25M guaranteed and the 33-year-old can earn up to $6.75M with incentives. The man that went from terrorizing Tom Brady and the New England offense for a decade will now do so exclusively at practice and share the same sideline with them on gamedays.
No one loves great linebacking play more than Bill Belichick and he’s had high praise for Harris in the past when asked about the production of the Linebacker while a member of the Jets: “Yeah, I have a lot of respect for David Harris. That guy, first of all, never comes off the field – not (just) this year, but any year. That guy is like a 98, 99 percent playtime player every year, year after year. It’s obviously a defense that has a lot of communication and adjustments and he’s certainly at the center of that, both as the signal caller and then at the line of scrimmage you can see him adjusting the front or making some type of communication calls to his teammates. He’s a very instinctive player, which unfortunately we’ve seen first hand. He does a good job for them, he’s been very consistent, durable, dependable, productive over a long period of time. You’re going to find him out there doing something. He’s a big, explosive guy. (Harris) can rush the passer, can cover, good run player and instinctive. He knows where the ball is so that accounts for a lot of his production.” High praise from the long-time talent evaluator who is no doubt pleased to have the productive veteran on his side over the next two seasons. (Quote Provided by Mark Daniels of Providence Journal on Twitter).
Harris racked up 1,087 tackles, 35 sacks, 31 passes defensed and six interceptions over 10 seasons with the Jets. He missed his first game last season in seven years proving to the durability that Coach Belichick praised. Harris was a casualty of the Jets “total-roster-overhaul” where they cleaned house of all veterans with any kind of cap and salary commitment going forward as they prepare to go all in for the No. 1 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.
For the Patriots, Matt Patricia and Bill Belichick, they get another under-the-radar veteran motivated to produce on the field and chase down his first ring. The position that perhaps had the biggest hole heading into the 2017 season has just been filled by a guy that knows a thing or two about hitting the gap and eviscerating opposing ball-handlers.
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