Although on-field impact was limited, David Harris earned Patriots' respect

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Veteran linebacker David Harris announced his retirement Friday, a decision that closes the book on his one-year tenure with the New England Patriots. Harris will be remembered most as a player for the New York Jets -- and rightfully so -- as he played for them for 10 seasons and had his most productive years in the NFL there.

Harris' retirement will create a gross salary-cap savings of $2.125 million for the Patriots. Had Harris not retired, he was unlikely to be back with the club on the second year of the two-year, $5 million pact he had signed in June 2017.

A few thoughts on Harris from 2017 with the Patriots:

Class act: Harris was seldom heard from media-wise, but it was clear that he was respected in the organization for his selfless, professional, team-first approach. When we spoke in November as part of the "football journey" series, I had asked him how much longer he planned to play. "I still love the game. Also, I'm trying to win. I had a long career and still have that fire to go out and play on Sunday, so I'm going to keep doing it as long as I can," he said at the time.

On-field impact was limited: Speed has never been Harris' forte, so he didn't factor into the special-teams mix. That made it hard for him to carve out a spot on the 46-man game-day roster. When he played, he usually came off the field in pass situations. Overall, he only played 177 defensive snaps for the Patriots, with his primary impact coming more as a result of his professional presence than what he did on the field. The coaches ultimately felt more comfortable with second-year linebacker Elandon Roberts.

Sometimes a signing pans out, other times it doesn't: The Patriots have had success with late-career players and squeezing additional productive years out of them, but Harris falls on the other side of the ledger. The Patriots' financial investment was such that it seems fair to say they expected more on-field impact from him. It's another reminder that there are no guarantees in free agency.

Patriots' need at position remains: Part of the reason the Patriots signed Harris in June -- after spring camps/practices had concluded -- was that there was a shortage of options available and they had a need. That need remains.