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What the Patriots’ Leonard Fournette interest could mean for Damien Harris

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Perry: Fournette’s Interest May Signal Plan to Move Harris originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

Are Damien Harris’ days with the New England Patriots numbered?

Bill Belichick already invested in the future of running back by selecting Rhamondre Stevenson in the fourth round of last year’s NFL Draft. Now, he’s expressing interest in one of the top free-agent running backs on the market.

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The Patriots welcomed veteran Leonard Fournette for a visit Monday, according to ESPN’s Field Yates. While it could just be Belichick doing his due diligence on him, our Phil Perry thinks the interest in Fournette could indicate a plan to dump Harris.

“Leonard Fournette is someone that I know the Patriots have been interested in for some time,” Perry said Monday. First edition. “He’s seen as an all-purpose running back. First, second, third. We know how many passes he caught from Tom Brady last year, so maybe he’s familiar with some Patriots concepts that Brady could have brought to Tampa Bay”. .

“I think the other thing you have to consider is if they end up adding Fournette, you might pass on another running back. I look at Damien Harris as someone who was drafted in 2019, he’s going into the final year of his contract. rookie. You’ve got a young running back who plays essentially the same role in Rhamondre Stevenson, and it worked really well between those two guys last year because you could mix them up and keep them fresh. But then again, Harris in the last year of his contract, you’ve got a young player in the same position, are you going to keep both for the foreseeable future?

Fournette, a Super Bowl champion with the Bucs, was a matchup threat from the backfield last season in Tampa Bay. The 27-year-old had 180 carries for 812 yards (4.5 YPC) and eight touchdowns to complete 69 receptions for 454 yards and two TDs.

While Fournette has a clear receiving advantage, Harris had the best rushing numbers in 2021. The Alabama product finished the season with 202 carries for 929 yards and 15 TDs.

The Boston Sports Journal’s Greg Bedard believes Fournette’s visit, along with some of the Patriots’ moves this offseason, indicates a change in philosophy at Belichick and Co.

“Bill Belichick used to be clockwork, we could say, ‘Okay, the guy is going into the final year of his rookie deal, options are going to be given.’ Finally, they’re doing it again,” Bedard said. “You have Isaiah Wynn at left tackle, two-year deal for Trent Brown, you have an option if you walk away from Isaiah Wynn at any time.

“You bring in Fournette, Phil is absolutely right, Damien Harris, there could be a trade waiting for them. They could trade him at the deadline. He goes into the final year of his contract this year. It leaves them options. Finally, they’re doing it again after about three years of letting things walk out the door and getting nothing in return.

Listen to the full discussion in the video below.

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