Harris’ 2019 pay will spike from $8.9MM to $12.05MM, per Klis. A clincher to this deal being done before the Broncos reconvene for their latest OTA session Wednesday: Harris will receive a $650K reporting bonus for showing up to this round of OTAs, Klis adds (on Twitter). Harris will also receive $600K to report to training camp.
This deal, as has been rumored for several days, will only cover the All-Pro cornerback’s 2019 pay. No new years were added. As it stands, Harris remains on track for free agency in 2020. But for 2019, this will bring Denver’s top secondary cog back into the fold. This comes after a trade-or-extension demand pre-draft and trade talks during the draft. But the Broncos held onto the last of their Super Bowl-era secondary cogs and will redeploy him in 2019.
Though rumored for days to be heading in this direction, the precise conclusion of this move remains unusual. The Broncos will give a long-underpaid player a raise — rather than the incentive package they gave Harris last year — but did not obtain any additional years of team control in exchange. This pay raise will make Harris the 10th-highest-paid corner in 2019.
“We have a lot of respect for Chris as a player and for everything he’s meant to our organization,” GM John Elway said in a statement. “This contract adjustment recognizes his value to our team and the high expectations we have for Chris as a Bronco this season and hopefully for years to come.”
Harris agreed to a five-year, $42.5MM deal late in 2014 — just before he was due to hit free agency — and that deal quickly became incredibly team-friendly. The versatile corner became a perennial Pro Bowler and was a key part of Denver’s Super Bowl championship defense. The Broncos agreed to give Kareem Jackson, who is a year older than Harris and has four fewer Pro Bowl nods (4-0), $11MM per year. Harris opted to stay away from the team in hopes of a new contract. While the 29-year-old corner initially demanded a new deal worth at least $15MM annually, this compromise brought him back.
The Broncos viewed Harris as essential to their hopes of returning to the playoffs. Despite Elway’s comment, it remains unclear if this will be Harris’ final year in Denver. The team will use more zone concepts under Vic Fangio after being mostly a man-based team during Harris’ tenure.
A 2011 UDFA, Harris has been one of this decade’s best corners and stands as arguably the top slot corner in NFL history, with this position having become commonplace in the modern game and the Kansas alum having excelled in this role throughout his career. He will team with Jackson and Bryce Callahan at corner this season, with it looking like Jackson will play safety in base sets and slide to corner in sub-packages.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.