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How Deonte Harty's unique mindset is setting him up with his new team in Buffalo

Deonte Harty, Buffalo Bills free agent signing, March 16, 2023 at One Bills Drive.
Deonte Harty, Buffalo Bills free agent signing, March 16, 2023 at One Bills Drive.

The Bills added some speed and versatility to their offense during free agency with the signing of wide receiver and return specialist Deonte Harty.

The former New Orleans Saint believed Buffalo was the right fit because of what he can offer to the offense.

"I feel like the thing that I bring the most is elusiveness and speed," Harty shared. "So, being able to stretch the field and open up the field a little bit more and then just being able to run those quick, short routes. And also just getting the ball out in space and just creating explosive plays."

Bills general manager Brandon Beane said they view Harty as a "4 role" player and someone who can open up the the field, as well as make life easier for receivers like Stefon Diggs and Gabe Davis.

"(He) really showed some good stuff stretching the field vertically and tracking the ball well," Beane said of Harty's 2021 season. "But (he) also can catch an underneath ball, can run an option route from the inside, a 9-stop route – where he's running the corner off the ball and hitting stop, the quarterback hits him. I've mentioned RAC before, when you've got a guy who's a punt returner who plays receiver, those guys generally are pretty good RAC players."

Harty spent four seasons with the Saints and made a big splash in the return game during his rookie season. He earned first-team All-Pro and Pro Bowl honors after returning 36 punts for 338 yards, which led the NFL in 2019. He also tacked on one punt return touchdown that season.

In his 40 career games played, Harty has totaled 64 receptions, 793 receiving yards and four touchdowns. The specialist has amassed 77 punt returns for 752 yards and 75 kick returns for 1,907 yards.

When asked how he could add to the game as a specialist, Harty said no job was beneath him.

"I'll block if they need me to, to be honest," the WR said. "I just want to impact the game, whichever way they need me to."

He hopes his versatile skillset on offense and in the return game can help get the Bills closer to their big goal.

"The last couple of years they've been pretty close to getting to where they want to go which is the Super Bowl," Harty said. "So I just feel like they were just missing a few pieces, and hopefully I could just be one of those pieces that could just help us get to where we want to go."

The Assumption University product is excited to play alongside two guys he looks up to in Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs. Harty said Diggs is one player he's studied and calls playing next to him "a dream come true."

"Josh is very accurate," Harty shared. "He's one of those guys where the play might look dead but in reality, it's not."

The Baltimore native's journey to the NFL is one that's been full of proving the doubters wrong. He arrived to the Saints as an undrafted free agent from a Division II school. The unmatched work ethic he had in order to make it in the NFL is still with him today.

"I feel like my whole career even as a young player, like even playing rec ball," Harty explained. "I've always been doubted, I've always been counted out because of my size. So that's just a mentality that I always had. Growing up and like getting recruited in college, it was the same thing. So then when I got recruited in the NFL, it was kind of the same, 'Oh, he's too small. He won't be able to play.' So, I've always had that chip on my shoulder, and I just felt like the sky's the limit to be honest. And I felt like being used the right way, I could just get to where I want to be."

Harty, who is 5-6 and 170 pounds, feels like he will be used the right way in Buffalo. The WR missed most of last season due to a toe injury but is fully healthy and ready to go for 2023.

"I was cleared a while ago," Harty said. "I'm back to doing everything. I'm back to feeling like my normal self. So, I'm good to go."

Check out the best photos from Buffalo Bills Free Agency 2023 as players sign their contracts, meet with the media and tour the Bills facility.

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