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Ravens Insider: Ravens signing Deonte Harty, 2019 All-Pro kick returner and former Archbishop Curley star


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The Ravens might have their new kick returner.

Baltimore is signing Deonte Harty to a one-year deal, his agent confirmed to The Baltimore Sun on Wednesday. His addition fills the void left by Devin Duvernay, who signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars in free agency.

Harty, 26, is a Baltimore native who starred at Archbishop Curley before playing at Division II Assumption. He spent last season with the Buffalo Bills, where he primarily served as the team’s punt returner, though he also has experience returning kickoffs.

Last season, he averaged 12.4 yards on 26 punt returns, including a 96-yard touchdown against the Miami Dolphins in Week 17 that helped Buffalo secure the AFC East title. Harty returned only one kickoff for 7 yards last season, but he was an All-Pro as an undrafted rookie with the New Orleans Saints in 2019 when he averaged 26.8 yards per kickoff return.

For his career, Harty, who was also a Baltimore Sun first-team All-Metro selection in 2014, has averaged 10.4 yards per punt return and 25.2 yards per kick return. He also has 79 career catches for 943 yards, the bulk of those coming in 2021 with the Saints. Two years ago, he legally changed his last name from Harris to Harty in honor of his stepdad.

The Ravens’ move comes as the NFL undergoes a drastic change to its kickoff format this year.

The new rule, which will be in place for one season before it is reviewed and voted on again, is designed to increase the number of returns per game while limiting the number of injuries from high speed collisions. A steady decline led to a record-low 23.7% return rate in 2023. 

“I love the fact that kickoff returns are going to be back in the game,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said Tuesday. “I’m kind of on record saying I wish they would have looked at a couple other things before taking the line of scrimmage out of the kickoff [and] kickoff return play, because the onside kicks and all that are still pretty cool, and they had already taken the wedges out and the double teams out. If you create some space for the kickoff return team to operate, maybe that would have slowed the kickoff team down; that was a theory.

“But they went all in with this new rule, and I’d rather have this than what we had in the past, where they were going all in for fair catches. We were never in favor of that.”

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