WR Brandon Marshall, C Nick Mangold, OT Breno Giacomini, K Nick Folk and CB Darrelle Revis were all released earlier this spring, as well.
The longtime Jets linebacker agreed to a two-year deal with the Patriots, according to a source. In 2016, Harris played 86 percent of defensive snaps despite missing a game. But they needed a top-end talent, who could start alongside Hightower on a consistent basis. And like most linebackers his age, Harris' level of play has declined to some degree.
Last season, in what would become his final year in New York, Harris appeared in 15 regular-season games while registering 95 total tackles, 0.5 sacks and two pass defenses. Elandon Roberts had a strong rookie year, but still has room to grow.
Meanwhile, the Patriots get to take advantage of signing a productive player such as Harris late in the offseason when he normally would have been scooped up at the beginning of free agency. For Harris, he will now be going from one of the worst teams in the AFC to one of the best. The addition of Harris will give the Patriots more depth at linebacker, and also help keep Dont'a Hightower fresh throughout the season.