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Contract details for Bills’ 2023 signing WR Deonte Harty

The salary cap implications and escalators built into Deonte Harty’s Bills contract are fascinating

New Orleans Saints v Green Bay Packers Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

The Buffalo Bills agreed to terms with former New Orleans Saints wide receiver and punt returner Deonte Harty (formerly Deonte Harris) on Wednesday just prior to the opening of the 2023 NFL league year. With Harty missing 2022 with a turf toe injury but flashing massive potential before that, the two sides compromised on the terms of the deal, adding escalators into the contract to protect the Bills from more injuries but giving Harty more money if he plays up to his ability.

Here are the full contract details, courtesy of Spotrac:

Harty gets a $2.75 million signing bonus as part of his fully guaranteed first-year compensation. His $2 million salary is also guaranteed and his $250,000 workout bonus is essentially guaranteed, rounding the total guarantees and cash in the first year to $5 million.

The structure of the deal essentially makes it a one-year, $5 million contract and then we’ll see after that. He can also earn up to $510,000 in per-game active bonuses, raising his 2023 compensation at $5.51 million.

In 2024, his salary automatically grows to $2.625 million alongside a $500,000 roster bonus. He can earn up to $765,000 in per-game active bonuses, as well.

The rest of the contract is built on salary escalators, which could total $2 million in each season. Harty didn’t reach any of these escalators in 2022, so they will only count on the cap in 2024 and only if he achieves them in 2023. Normally we don’t get specifics on these, but Spotrac was able to get the deal directly from the agents, so we have insight:

30: $100,000
40: $200,000
50: $300,000

Receiving Yards
300: $100,000
400: $200,000
500: $300,000
600: $400,000

Yards Per Punt Return
9.5: $100,000
10: $150,000
10.5: $250,000

Total Touchdowns
3: $100,000
5: $250,000
7: $350,000
9: $500,000

Offensive Playing Time
30%: $100,000
35%: $150,000
40%: $200,000

All-Pro or Pro Bowl (initial selection): $250,000

Super Bowl Win + 40% offensive playing time: $100,000

Deonte Harty Yearly Contract Breakdown

Signing bonus: $1.375 million
Workout bonus: $250,000
Base salary: $2 million (guaranteed)
Per-game Roster bonus: Up to $510,000 ($30,000 per game) [$120,000 LTBE]
Escalators: Up to $2 million

Cap hit: $3.745 million
Yearly cash: $5 million plus incentives

Signing bonus: $1.375 million
Roster bonus: $500,000
Workout bonus: $100,000
Base salary: $2.625 million
Per-game Roster bonus: Up to $765,000 ($45,000 per game)
Escalators: Up to $2 million

Cap hit: $4.6 million (plus LTBE bonuses)
Yearly cash: $3.225 million plus incentives
Dead cap if cut: $1.375 million
Potential savings if cut: $3.225 million

If Harty lives up to these escalators, the Bills will be very happy to pay him the extra money at the end of the year. If he doesn’t, it was a one-year experiment that didn’t cripple them. With the wide receiver market so volatile in free agency, I think this type of deal is a risk well worth taking. They did a similar incentive-laden contract with Jamison Crowder a year ago, and it protected them when he didn’t produce. Hopefully Harty does better in 2023.