Broncos cornerback Chris Harris Jr. suffered a fractured fibula in today’s game against the Bengals, according to Mike Klis of 9News (Twitter link). Following the contest, Harris said he won’t require surgery and could return if Denver makes the playoffs, tweets Nicki Jhabvala of The Athletic.
The Broncos wouldn’t be in line for a postseason berth if the 2018 campaign ended today, but they are in the hunt. Per the New York Times, Denver has a 21% of making the playoffs after defeating Cincinnati today. But the task of getting into the tournament will become all the more difficult without Harris, who is far-and-away the Broncos’ best defensive back.
Harris, 29, has played nearly every defensive snap (98.3%) for the Broncos this season, lining up on the outside in Denver’s base defense and moving to the slot in nickel and dime packages. For his efforts, Pro Football Focus ranks Harris as the NFL’s fifth-best cornerback, behind only Stephon Gilmore, Kareem Jackson, Desmond King, and Byron Jones. Harris also ranks eighth league-wide in yards per pass allowed, per Football Outsiders’ charting data.
Harris was loosely mentioned in trade rumors earlier this year, although there was never any indication Denver was serious about moving him. Instead, it appeared other NFL clubs were simply curious as to whether Harris was available. Signed to an incredibly affordable contract, Harris’ $8.5MM annual salary ranks just 21st among cornerbacks. He’s signed through 2019, and will make a base salary of $7.8MM next year.
Given that they released veteran Adam Jones last month, the Broncos don’t have a ton of depth at cornerback. Tramaine Brock will be in line to start opposite Bradley Roby, while Isaac Yiadom and Brendan Langley could also see more time. Theoretically, Denver could express interest in re-signing Jones, although he displayed a steep drop in performance before being cut.
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