Great Scotts! An Ideal Contract Extension To Retain Damien Harris Past 2022.

July 30, 2022
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What would it look like if the New England Patriots gave Damien Harris an extension? It’s a question being asked by fans, and although it doesn’t look likely, we will look at it. And see if we can figure out something realistic.

Damien Harris is 25 years old and has only touched the ball on offense 366 times with 343 of those times on the ground over his career. He has only totaled 1,816 yards from scrimmage with 17 touchdowns.

Harris is coming off a 929-yard rushing season where he rushed for 15 touchdowns, but his lack of contribution in both the passing game and on special teams could play into his contract situation. There were a few running backs signed during the 2022 offseason. Let’s look at their contracts.

What Did 2022 Running Back Market Look Like?

In 2021 Harris accounted for 1,061 yards of offense. His former teammate Brandon Bolden touched the ball 135 times less on offense, had 631 yards of offense, and contributed as a returner.

Raiders running back Brandon Bolden (32) just signed a two-year, five-year contract with $2.3 Million guaranteed. As I showed above, Harris offers little value in other areas while appearing to be the better runner, so is he worth Bolden Money?

Over the past two seasons, J.D. McKissic touched the ball 256 for 1563 yards of offense with seven touchdowns. That was good enough for a two-year seven million dollar contract with $3.6 million guaranteed. And McKissic has a history of returning kicks, something Harris does not.

Chase Edmonds is not the runner that Harris is, but again he makes up for it in receiving and return yards. Edmonds touched the ball 309 times for 1,753 yards of offense with seven touchdowns. And an additional 18 kickoff returned in 2020. His new contract is two years, $12 million with $6.1 million guaranteed. 

And lastly, there’s Tom Brady’s running back, Leonard Fournette. Fournette touched the ball 382 times over the past two seasons for 1,866 yards of offense with 16 touchdowns. He averaged 4.5 yards a carry in 2021 compared to Harris’s 4.6. Tampa Bay gave Fournette a $21 million contract with $9 million guaranteed.

So now that we know what the market looks like, we can figure out what a Harris extension will be. We know Harris’s value is one-dimensional, or so it appears. He’s a two-down back.

Incentives Are A Must

At age 25, giving Harris a three-year deal makes sense. The Patriots can trade him away in year three. There have to be incentives if Harris was to be extended.

It is believed that the Patriots redshirted Harris in 2019, but over the next two seasons, he missed eight games. So having a million-dollar annual bonus if he can stay healthy and play all 17 games would be the first incentive.

Harris’s yards per carry fell from five in 2020 to 4.6 in 2021. But, again, having a million-dollar annual incentive for Harris to maintain a 4.5-yard average on the season or higher is wise.

Because Harris’s contribution to the passing game as a receiver has been insignificant, an annual million-dollar incentive for every season he can catch 40 passes (matching Bolden’s 2021 production) would be good.

Now Let’s Wrap Up The Contract Extension

Harris was better than Melvin Gordon and Austin Eckler on the ground. Gordon Makes too little money, and Eckler picks up way more yards as a pass catcher. But looking at their contracts, offering Harris a three-year contract for $12 million with six million guaranteed and the possibility of an additional nine million dollars in incentives over that span makes sense.

It would average to seven million a season if he hit all his bonuses. The Patriots, including an out after two years like the Buccaneers, also makes sense. Something around two years ten million dollars would probably be about right.

And with two of the bonuses being reasonable, the money would carry over into the next season if not met. And that would be extremely helpful to the Pats and something Belichick might consider. Look at incentives given to Gronk or Trent Brown.

This contract, however, is highly unlikely as the Patriots drafted both Pierre Strong Jr. and Kevin Harris during the 2022 NFL draft. It’s a possibility that Damien Harris will be traded before week one and will never see an extension in New England.

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