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)|
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.