Deonte Harty

Ravens To Sign WR Deonte Harty

APRIL 10: Harty’s visit has indeed produced a contract. The parties agreed to a one-year deal on Wednesday, Tom Pelissero and Ian Rapoport of NFL Network report. Harty will now enter the draft as Baltimore’s leading candidate for both the kick and punt returner gig, and he could see rotational usage on offense as well. His role in the latter department will of course be affected by any rookie WR additions made later this month.

APRIL 5: In need of depth at receiver and a new return specialist, the Ravens are looking into an option capable of filling both roster holes. The team is hosting Deonte Harty, per The Athletic’s Jeff Zrebiec.

Baltimore saw Devin Duvernay depart in free agency, leaving the team in need of a new returner. Harty could contribute in that regard, having earned All-Pro acclaim during his rookie season with the Saints owing to his special teams work. The 26-year-old spent his first four seasons with New Orleans, posting 570 yards and three touchdowns on offense in 2021.

When the Bills signed him last offseason, though, they did so with the intention of having him serve in a depth receiver role while making a larger third phase impact. Harty signed a two-year deal early in free agency, and the season-ending injury suffered Nyheim Hines allowed him to serve as the Bills’ primary returner. Harty averaged a career-high 12.4 yards per return on punts, highlighted by a 96-yard touchdown. He was among the many Buffalo players released in a cap-cutting move ahead of free agency, however.

The Baltimore native only returned one kickoff, a figure which comes as little surprise given the increasing trend of touchbacks around the NFL in recent years. Given the rule changes aimed at increasing return rates, though, teams are likely to prioritize returners compared to years past. Harty could take on both kick and punt return duties, although receiver Tylan Wallace and running back Justice Hill represent other options in that capacity with Duvernay no longer in the fold.

Of course, the latter’s absence as well as that of Odell Beckham Jr. leaves the Ravens in the market for a complementary wideout addition. Harty made just 15 receptions with the Bills last year, logging a 15% offensive snap share. He could see a slightly larger workload in Baltimore, a team which retained Nelson Agholor and will likely make at least one receiver selection in the upcoming draft. The Ravens entered Friday with $12MM in cap space, and it will be interesting to see if Harty’s visit produces an agreement.

Bills Release Mitch Morse, Deonte Harty

The Bills continue to move on from veterans in their path to cap compliance. Buffalo is releasing center Mitch Morse, Mike Garafolo and Ian Rapoport of NFL Network report. The team also plans to cut receiver/returner Deonte Harty, Rapoport and colleague Tom Pelissero add. Both moves are now official.

Morse’s release marks further changes along the offensive line for Buffalo. The team traded Ryan Bates to the Bears on Monday, giving him a better chance of seeing first-team duties. That suggested the Bills’ starting interior trio of Connor McGovern, O’Cyrus Torrence and Morse would remain intact for 2024. Instead, the latter is now poised for free agency.

Moving on from Morse – who had one year remaining on his contract – will produce $8.5MM in cap savings and $3MM in dead money. The move means Buffalo will have a new starting center for the first time since 2019 unless a new, more cost-effective agreement can be reached between team and player in this situation. Morse earned his lone Pro Bowl nod in 2022, and he logged over 1,100 snaps for the second time in his career last season.

The 31-year-old ranked 20th amongst qualifying centers in 2023, drawing a 64.1 overall grade. That falls in line with his evaluations throughout much of his career, and a similar level of play may have been expected for 2024. Buffalo entered the offseason in unenviable cap shape, though, leading to a number of departures via veteran releases.

That process has included safety Jordan Poyer and special teamer Siran Neal being let go in cost-shedding moves earlier today. Harty’s release will add to the financial benefits, as it will yield a further $4.3MM in extra cap space. The latter joined Buffalo on a two-year pact last offseason and served as the team’s primary punt returner. He ran back 26 punts in 2023, and scored a 96-yard touchdown as part of his special teams contributions. The Bills will aim to find a less expensive option this offseason.

Rapoport notes Connor McGovern is expected to slide over from guard to center to take Morse’s place. Not to be confused with the Jets center of the same name, McGovern joined the Bills last offseason following his Cowboys tenure. He played exclusively at left guard in 2023, but he has limited experience as a center dating back to his time in Dallas. David Edwards, meanwhile, will be the favorite to replace McGovern at the LG spot on Buffalo’s new-look offensive line.

Bills RBs Nyheim Hines, Latavius Murray Battling For Roster Spot?

The Bills rushing attack will look a bit different in 2023. Devin Singletary is gone, having left via free agency to the Texans. The front office added former Patriots starter Damien Harris to the mix, although he profiles as more of an RB2 since the organization is ready to go all-in on 2022 second-round pick James Cook.

Cook and Harris appear to be locked in atop the depth chart, leading to an apparent competition between Nyheim Hines and Latavius Murray for the RB3 spot. As Ryan O’Halloran of the Buffalo News noted today, the two veterans may actually be fighting for a roster spot, not just a spot on the depth chart. The Bills intend to give a roster spot to fullback Reggie Gilliam, perhaps leaving only one space for Hines or Murray

Hines would be the more natural fit if the organization is looking for a fill-in for Singletary. The former Bills RB averaged 39 receptions per season over his final three seasons in Buffalo. Harris had 40 total receptions during his four seasons in New England, and the former third-round pick seems primed to be a true backup. Cook provides some pass-catching prowess (21 catches as a rookie), but it seems unlikely that the second-year pro will be a true three-down back.

Hines could provide Josh Allen with another worthy target out of the backfield on third downs. The former Colts fourth-round pick averaged more than 56 catches per season though his first three years in the NFL, and while he saw a reduced role in 2021 and 2022, he still hauled in 70 total catches between the two campaigns.

While Hines has shown an ability to catch the ball, his roster spot could ultimately come down to special teams. The 26-year-old served as the Bills’ primary returner after joining the organization last season, returning a pair of kickoffs for touchdowns. As O’Halloran notes, new wideout Deonte Harty previously was an All-Pro punt returner, and his spot on the roster could make Hines expendable.

Murray would be the odd man out if Hines ultimately makes the team, but the veteran has a good case for making the roster. The 33-year-old would naturally bring some experience to a relatively young running back corps, and he’s also shown to be a worthy replacement starter in a pinch (he’s started at least three games in each of his nine NFL seasons). While Hines is the superior pass-catcher, Murray can also contribute in the passing game, with the veteran hauling in 35 catches just last season.

As O’Halloran writes, Murray is still a valuable player, with the RB most recently collecting close to 900 yards from scrimmage in 13 games with the Broncos and Saints in 2022. If Murray does end up missing the cut in Buffalo, O’Halloran believes the Bills front office should be able to get something for him via trade.

Hines and Murray will likely get an extended look during the preseason, but it seems likely that one of the two will be looking for a new job by the end of the preseason.

AFC East Notes: Rapp, Bills, Parker, Amos

After starting 48 games for the Rams over the past four seasons, Taylor Rapp will head into the 2023 season as the Bills‘ third safety behind Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde. While the 25-year-old free agent acquisition will provide Buffalo will top-end depth at the position, the team initially targeted Rapp as insurance for one of their starters.

As Jay Skurski of the Buffalo News writes, Bills safeties coach Joe Danna initially reached out to Rapp when the organization was uncertain if they’d be able to retain Poyer. The veteran ended up sticking around Buffalo on a two-year deal, and Rapp inked his one-year pact a few weeks later.

Rapp signed his contract understanding that he’d be a depth piece in Buffalo, but Bills defensive backs coach John Butler indicated that the newcomer’s versatility could afford him additional defensive snaps.

“Obviously, he understands he’s walking into a room with a ton of experience,” Butler told Skurski. “We love guys who have a versatile background. Just in the concept of their ability to play man, their ability to play zone, their ability to tackle, their ability to play the ball. I think he’s been a great addition to us and he’s fit in well, not only from a football player perspective but culturally. From a guy that just kind of is exactly what we want from a football DNA standpoint.”

Meanwhile, Rapp is more than happy to be playing alongside Poyer and Hyde.

“Those two guys, Micah and Jordan, those are the guys. They are very well established,” Rapp said. “Those guys are very special to this team, very special to this defense. Just finding different ways, unique ways to get the best 11 players out on the grass, whether that be different sub packages or different ways that I can get on the field to contribute. That doesn’t take away from getting on special teams. Just any way I can get on the field to contribute and ultimately help this team win a championship, that’s my goal, that’s all that I have in mind.”

More notes out of the AFC East…

  • With Isaiah McKenzie now in Indianapolis, the Bills will be looking for a wideout to step up behind Stefon Diggs and Gabe Davis. Khalil Shakir, Deonte Harty, and Trent Sherfield are battling it out for the third spot on the WR depth chart, according to Joe Buscaglia of The Athletic. The writer opines that all three of the wideouts are likely to earn roster spots, with rookie sixth-round pick Justin Shorter likely getting the sixth and final spot on the depth chart.
  • DeVante Parker‘s three-year, $33MM extension with the Patriots created about $2.4MM in cap space, according to ESPN’s Field Yates (on Twitter). The wideout has fully guaranteed salaries in 2023 and 2024, and he can earn $14.7MM of his $33MM via statistical incentives (plus another $1.2MM in All-Pro incentives). Greg Auman of Fox Sports (on Twitter) ends up simplifying the contract to a three-year, $18MM pact.
  • Adrian Amos‘ one-year, $4MM deal with the Jets includes an $1.25MM guaranteed base salary and a $500K signing bonus, per Aaron Wilson of (via Twitter). The safety can earn up to $900K in playing time incentives, $500K in Pro Bowl bonuses, and $850K in playoff incentives.

Bills Agree To Terms With WR Deonte Harty

The Bills have added to their receiving corps, but more significantly, to their special teams. Buffalo has agreed to terms on a two-year deal with returner Deonte Harty, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter (on Twitter). Ian Rapoport of NFL Network adds that the contract has a base value of $9.5MM with the potential to max out at $13.5MM, and includes $5MM guaranteed (Twitter link).

Harty has spent the past four seasons in New Orleans, operating as the team’s kick and punt returner. As a rookie, he earned Pro Bowl and All-Pro honors, demonstrating his potential in the third phase. Over the course of his first three years in the league, the 25-year-old racked up over 3,400 all-purpose yards as one of the top returners in the league.

The 5-6, 170-pounder signed played on the RFA tender in 2022, which earned him just under $4MM. Given his production on offense in the previous year (36 catches, 570 yards, three touchdowns), he was said to be seeking a more long-term accord in the offseason. Nothing materialized on that front, though, leading him to Buffalo on this new pact.

The Bills are thought to be in the market for an addition to their receiving corps to help compliment Stefon Diggs. While Harty is unlikely to fill a consistent role on offense, he can give them a productive option in the return game. Buffalo used seven different kick returners in 2022, though the midseason acquisition of Nyheim Hines gave them a proven producer in the third phase.

Hines is under contract for two more years, and re-worked his contract to lower his base salary this season. His compensation, along with that of Harty, shows how willing the Bills are to remain productive in the return game as they continue to re-shape their offense.

NFC Contract Restructures: Harty, Jackson

Here are two recent contract restructures from around the NFC:

  • Deonte Harty, WR (Saints): Harty recently restructured his one-year, $3.99MM contract with New Orleans to open up about $1.74MM in cap space, according to Field Yates of ESPN. The restructured deal contains four voidable years, a now common trait in Saints’ contracts meant to assist with cap space. Harty, who changed his surname from Harris in 2021 to honor his stepfather, has been with the Saints since signing as an undrafted free agent in 2019. As a rookie, Harty carved out a role for himself in the return game and led the NFL in punt return yardage. He was named an All-Pro and a Pro Bowler that year and went on the serve as the Saints’ primary return man for the next two seasons while also adding growing contributions on offense. Unfortunately, this year, Harty has been bitten by a turf toe injury that has landed him on injured reserve. Reports have indicated that the injury could potentially keep Harty out for the rest of the season, leading to the agreement to restructure. In his absence, another undrafted rookie, Rashid Shaheed, has taken over Harty’s role on offense and special teams.
  • Gabe Jackson, G (Seahawks): Jackson and the Seahawks recently agreed to a restructured deal that clears up $1.5MM of cap space, according to Bob Condotta of The Seattle Times. The longtime Raider was traded to the Seahawks last year where he signed a three-year, $22.58MM extension. Jackson’s restructure likely has nothing to do with injury, though he did miss two games with a hip flexor injury before returning this week against the Giants. It’s likely just a team-friendly move to clear up some cap space. Jackson was one of only six players on the Seahawks with a base salary higher than $2.5MM and three of the other players are in a contract year, which limited Seattle’s restructuring options. In the end, the team converted $3.5MM of Jackson’s 2022 salary into a signing bonus that will be prorated over the remainder of his contract. The move frees up a little space for Seattle ahead of the trade deadline, but, likely, it’s just a move to help cover practice squad elevations and injuries for the remainder of the year.

Minor NFL Transactions: 10/15/22

Today’s minor moves around the league:

Atlanta Falcons

Baltimore Ravens

Carolina Panthers

Dallas Cowboys

Green Bay Packers

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars

Kansas City Chiefs

Los Angeles Rams

Miami Dolphins

Minnesota Vikings

New England Patriots

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

Pittsburgh Steelers

San Francisco 49ers

Seattle Seahawks

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Injury Updates: Penny, Jets, Bills

Seahawks running back Rashaad Penny is done for the season, but he did get some good news following an MRI. According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport (on Twitter), the ankle was shown to be “relatively clean,” with “no deltoid or associated issues.”

Penny underwent “tight-rope” surgery earlier this week, requiring his fibula to be plated in order to stabilize the ankle. The running back will ultimately need four months to recover, meaning he’ll have plenty of time to get healthy for next season.

Of course, it remains to be seen if Penny will be playing in Seattle next season, as the running back is set to hit free agency. The former first-round pick has spent his entire five-year career in Seattle, including a 2021 campaign where he collected a career-high 797 yards from scrimmage.

More injury notes from around the NFL…

  • We previously heard that Jets offensive tackle Duane Brown was opting for rehab instead of surgery while he nursed his injured shoulder. Rapoport tweets that Brown is actually playing through a torn rotator cuff. The veteran landed on injured reserve right before Week 1 after suffering a shoulder injury in practice, and he made his debut with the Jets this past weekend.
  • Micah Hyde is eyeing a significant recovery timeline. According to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler (on Twitter), the Bills All-Pro safety could take anywhere from six to nine months to return to the field. Hyde recently underwent successful surgery to repair a herniated disc in his neck, and he’s already been ruled out for the season.
  • 49ers defensive end Jordan Willis is still “a few weeks” away from returning, according to Matt Barrows of The Athletic. Willis landed on injured reserve last month with a knee injury. The veteran saw time in 10 games last season for San Francisco, collecting 15 tackles and three sacks.
  • Saints wide receiver Deonte Harty suffered a turf toe injury on Sunday, according to Nick Underhill of on Twitter. Harty will certainly miss some time, and there’s fear that the injury could be “significant.” Indeed, Rapoport tweets that Harty will get a second opinion, but if nothing changes, he’ll likely miss a few months. After collecting 36 receptions in 2021, Harty only has a pair of catches in four games this season. He’s also returned six kickoffs and three punts.
  • Chiefs defensive lineman Tershawn Wharton tore his ACL on Monday night, ending his season. The former undrafted free agent hasn’t missed a game for Kansas City since joining the organization in 2020. In five games this season, Wharton collected eight tackles and one sack.

Saints WR Deonte Harty Seeking New Deal

The Saints made some big changes at receiver this offseason, trading up for Chris Olave and signing Jarvis Landry. These additions and Michael Thomas‘ expected return would not leave nearly as many opportunities as the rest of New Orleans’ wideout cast received last season.

Prior to the Olave trade-ups and the Landry accord, the Saints tendered Deonte Harty at the second-round level. The former Deonte Harris signed his RFA tender in April, and Nick Underhill of tweets Harty is expected to show for Saints minicamp this week. But the 5-foot-6 wideout/special-teamer is seeking a new contract, Underhill adds.

Harty will make $3.99MM on his RFA tender — well up from the $850K he earned in 2021 — and does have an All-Pro nod on his resume. Harty received that honor as a punt returner in 2019, his rookie season. Harty has remained New Orleans’ primary kick and punt returner in the two seasons since.

A former UDFA out of Division II Assumption College (Massachusetts), Harty became a necessary piece at receiver for the Saints last season — when Thomas’ evolving timetable (and eventual full-season absence) wrecked the team’s aerial setup. Harty caught 36 passes for 570 yards and three touchdowns. Of course, he also served a three-game suspension for a summer 2021 DWI arrest. The Saints and Harty are not believed to be close on terms, Ian Rapoport of tweets.

Harty may be eyeing recent deals handed out to some return men this offseason. Fellow All-Pro returner Jakeem Grant signed a three-year, $10MM deal with the Browns in March. The Jets gave 2021’s All-Pro kick returner, Braxton Berrios, a two-year, $12MM deal this year. Despite Berrios’ momentum and increased usage in New York’s offense, Harty bested the part-time Jet slot’s yardage total (431) by a considerable margin and did so in playing fewer offensive snaps.

Saints WR Deonte Harris Signs RFA Tender

It wasn’t the biggest wide receiver news of the night, but on Thursday Deonte Harris signed his RFA tender to remain with the Saints (Twitter link via ESPN’s Field Yates). The 24-year-old will stay in New Orleans for at least one more season. 

[RELATED: Saints Move Up To No. 11, Select WR Olave]

Harris made an impact at the start of his career as the team’s primary returner. In 2019, he averaged 26.8 yards on kickoffs; he also led the league in punt returns (36) and yards (338), running one back for a touchdown. His special teams prowess earned him Pro Bowl and All-Pro honors, and has remained a staple of his game.

Given the state of the team’s WR corps this season, though, Harris took on a much larger offensive role. In the absence of Michael Thomas, he became a key figure in the Saint’s passing game. Despite only starting one of 13 games, he totalled 36 catches for 570 yards and three touchdowns. Not surprisingly, given his speed, he averaged an impressive 15.8 yards per reception. His offensive totals would have been higher if not for a three-game suspension he served in December for a DWI arrest.

Given that Harris was offered a second-round tender, he will earn just under $4MM in 2022. He may revert more towards his more familiar special teams role given the expected return of Thomas and the team’s addition of Chris Olave last night. If not, though, he has proven an ability to be at least a complimentary piece in the receiving corps.