With free agency “officially” starting later on Wednesday, the Buffalo Bills reportedly added another playmaker for Josh Allen during the legal tampering period. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Bills agreed to a two-year deal with former New Orleans Saints wide receiver Deonte Harty.
Deonte Harty was an undrafted free agent signing by the New Orleans Saints and would make their 53-man roster that season as a rookie. He would also earn a first-team All-Pro nomination and Pro Bowl selection due to his performance as a returner.
That season, Harty had 36 punt returns, which led the NFL, for an average of 9.7 yards per punt return as well as one punt return for a touchdown. He also had 24 kickoff returns for an average of 26.8 yards per kickoff return.
Deonte Harty likely to have bigger role in Buffalo Bills offense
While Deonte Harty is an experienced returner, he doesn’t have as much experience as a wide receiver. In 2019 and 2020, Harty combined for only 29 receptions before seeing his role in the Saints’ offense grow in 2021.
That season, Harty set career highs with 39 receptions on 56 targets for 570 receiving yards and three touchdowns. He clearly has big play ability with an average over 15 yards per reception that season.
While he is inexperienced at wide receiver, the contract could be an indication that the Buffalo Bills believe he can be a key part of their offense. According to Spotrac, the contract is a two-year deal worth $9.5 million but has significant incentives for receiving metrics like receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns along with punt return average.
If there is one big concern, outside of his inexperience at wide receiver, it is ball security for Deonte Harty. In four seasons, Harty has nine fumbles but had six in his first two seasons. This could be something he has improved over the years but is also worth noting.
This is a high upside free agent signing but probably doesn’t preclude the Buffalo Bills from adding more wide receivers this offseason.