Suspension of Deonte Harris Deals Major Blow to Saints. Here is What it Means for the Team Moving Forward
Saints Wide Receiver Deonte Harris, who played on Thanksgiving against the Buffalo Bills, has officially been suspended for three games. The suspension comes after he was sentenced to one year of supervised probation in his DUI case following an incident in July in Baltimore. According to NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport, Harris has since appealed but time will tell if the suspension is overturned or reduced.
Per the NFL’s Substance Abuse Policy, absent aggravating circumstances, discipline for a first offense DUI is suspension without pay for three games. Discipline for a second or subsequent offense is eight games.
What does this mean for the Saints? It means that they’ll have to embrace their next man up mentality now more than ever. At this point, that will be easier said than done. With Michael Thomas announcing that he will not be playing this season due to an ankle injury sustained during his rehabbing from surgery, Deonte Harris has been far & away the team’s best offensive weapon with 27 Receptions for 427 yards.
On top of being the only speed threat, he is the only Wide Receiver in the Saints position group that can create separation consistently on the field. This was advantageous given that the next opponent for the Saints, the Dallas Cowboys, have been vulnerable in the secondary when it comes to double moves & yards after the catch. If Harris’ suspension goes into effect immediately, the team will have to turn to other prospects such as Wide Receiver Lil’Jordan Humphrey, the former UDFA from Texas.
Harris also was one of the best returners in the league, with 591 yards on 25 Kick Returns (23.6 AVG), and 154 yards on 13 Punt Returns (11.9 AVG). Expect RB/WR Ty Montgomery to handle Punt/Kick Return duties in his absence. While Montgomery has been one of the few bright spots as a Special Teams player, it mainly has come as a Gunner; only netting 1 return for 33 yards for the 2021 season in the kicking game.
The Saints recently signed former Patriots Wide Receiver, Malcolm Perry, to their practice squad as a potential means of filling the void Harris’s suspension will no doubt cause, but time will tell one way or the other. Perry will have mighty shoes to fill.
Saints play Thursday, December 2, 2021 against the Dallas Cowboys, who will be without their Head Coach Mike McCarthy. Unfortunately, McCarthy recently tested positive for COVID-19.