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Factoid

Bills wideouts

Harty has downfield potential

In a fairly low-profile move, the Bills mixed up their receiving depth chart last week. They released Isaiah McKenzie, who served as their No. 3 at times last year, while signing free agent Deonte Harty. Potentially, it gives the team a deep threat they've lacked in recent years.

It's a tw0-year, $13.5 million deal, with $5 million guaranteed. Kind of a lot for a player a lot of people haven't even heard of. He barely played last season, appearing in only four games and catching just 2 passes for New Orleans, suffering an early foot injury. Moreover, he changed his name from when he'd actually made an NFL impact.

As Deonte Harris, he was an all-pro return man back in 2019. More recently, though, he was a viable deep threat as a No. 3 receiver for the Saints in 2021. That year he caught 36 passes for 570 yards and 3 touchdowns, averaging nearly 16 yards per catch. Among all wide receivers to catch at least 30 passes in either of the last two seasons, that was a top-15 number.

YARDS PER CATCH, 2021-2022 (30-PLUS RECEPTIONS)
PlayerYearRecYdsAvgTD
Deebo Samuel202177140518.26
Jaylen Waddle202275135618.18
Ja'Marr Chase202181145518.013
Donovan Peoples-Jones20213459717.63
Gabriel Davis20224883617.47
DeVante Parker20223153917.43
A.J. Brown202288149617.011
Bryan Edwards20213457116.83
Corey Davis20223253616.82
DJ Chark20223050216.73
Marquez Valdes-Scantling20224268716.42
Tyler Lockett202173117516.18
Van Jefferson20215080216.06
Deonte Harty20213657015.83
Darius Slayton20224672415.72
A.J. Green20215484815.73
Gabriel Davis20213554915.76
Terry McLaurin202277119115.55
George Pickens20225280115.44
Marquez Callaway20214669815.26
Davante Adams2022100151615.214
Mike Williams202176114615.19
Quez Watkins20214364715.01
Justin Jefferson2021108161615.010
Jahan Dotson20223552314.97
Emmanuel Sanders20214262614.94
Christian Watson20224161114.97
Amari Cooper202278116014.99
Brandon Aiyuk20215682614.85
Tee Higgins202174109114.76
Mike Evans202277112414.66
Chase Claypool20215986014.62
Kendrick Bourne20215580014.55
Jerry Jeudy20226797214.56
Chris Olave202272104214.54
Corey Davis20213449214.54
Alec Pierce20224159314.52
Jalen Guyton20213144814.53
Tyreek Hill2022119171014.47
DeVonta Smith20216491614.35
Mike Williams20226389514.24
Justin Jefferson2022128180914.18
D.J. Moore20226388814.17
Kenny Golladay20213752114.10
Julio Jones20213143414.01
Mike Evans202174103514.014

Buffalo put Gabe Davis on this list in each of the last two years, but perhaps the plan is to use Harty for more of those downfield opportunities. Definitely he's a different kind of player than McKenzie, who did most of his work in close (for his career, McKenzie averages 9.5 yards per catch).

I don't think Harty (who's just 5-foot-6 and 170 pounds) is necessarily going to be a big part of the passing game, but the signing at least suggests the possibility of a significant role, as a return man for sure but also as a No. 3 or at worst 4 in the passing game, giving the offense a downfield weapon. Those participating in best-ball drafts these days could consider him as a late-round option.

--Andy Richardson

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