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David Harris Retires

It’s not often that the retirement of a guy who totaled 22 tackles on the season and only played 23 percent of the teams’ snaps warrants a blog. Especially not on a Friday night. But David Harris is not just any retiring player. Next to say, Malcolm Butler, his personal journey might personify just how Bizarro this 2017 Patriots season was more than anybody else’s.

I wrote about Harris when the Jets cut him back on June 6th. I mocked it as one of the most Jets move in history the way they tucked it to a respected team leader by waiting until so late in the off-season when teams had spent most of their cap and rosters were mostly set. I mentioned how he’d not only worn the green dot through like three or four different coaching regimes, but he’d played 99 percent of their snaps and only missed one game in the last eight seasons. Then when the Patriots signed him a couple of weeks later to fill out an already loaded Front 7, I was over the moon. He started out camp practicing with the green dot too, which to me signaled big playing time ahead as he’d free up Dont’a Hightower to play more of an up-on-the-line Will linebacker role.

And then … reality had to come along and spoil my little fantasy perfect world. Over the course of camp the depth in the Front 7 evaporated. Starting with Rob Ninkovich’s retirement, accelerated by the release of Kony Ealy and culminating with Harris basically disappearing into an event horizon.

Through seven games he was on the field through seven plays. After Hightower was IR’ed with a separated pec, his playing time increased to 19, 21 and 30 reps in consecutive games. But then he went back into the ether, getting Butlered for all three postseason games as the team preferred to put Elandon Roberts out there.

No one’s blaming him. He’s a universally respected guy. It’s just one of those rare cases when the Patriots keep a guy too long instead of getting rid of him too early. And one of those Bigfoot-sighting-rare times when the Jets were right about a guy and the Pats were wrong. And he’ll be on their Ring of Honor before too long. It’s just a damned shame he won’t be wearing a Patriots ring to the ceremony.

@jerrythornton1