Pro Football Focus rated Chris Harris as the second-best cornerback of the 2010s (Twitter link), and it looks like the acclaimed defender will stick to his offseason word and see how the NFL gauges his value exiting his age-30 season.
The Broncos, however, did make an extension offer before the trade deadline. Harris said (via The Athletic’s Nicki Jhabvala, on Twitter) the team proposed a three-year, $36MM deal. This came months after the sides could not agree on extension terms over the summer, leading to a rare contract-year pay raise for the four-time Pro Bowler. The Broncos bumped Harris’ 2019 salary to $12.05MM. He was one of the top trade candidates in October, with the Lions making an offer. But the Broncos kept him.
Harris expects to have a new deal by the time the 2020 league year opens on March 18, with Ryan O’Halloran of the Denver Post adding (via Twitter) the nine-year veteran does not plan to take visits. That’s a common free agency practice for high-end players. Harris bypassed 2015 free agency to sign a five-year, $42.5MM deal to stay in Denver. Although some members of the organization would prefer the team retain Harris on a third contract, the final member of the Broncos’ No-Fly Zone secondary may well depart Denver.
John Elway has identified Justin Simmons as a player the Broncos would like to keep, and it looks like — via long-term deal before free agency or through the franchise tag — the breakout safety will be back in Denver next season. The nine-year GM did not commit to Harris in the same way, indicating it will be up to how the Broncos can fit contracts into their cap space — which currently is projected to stand at $65.6MM.
Injuries and inexperience at cornerback forced the Broncos to play Harris in a less familiar role this season. The Broncos did not use the acclaimed slot defender much in the slot this season. While Harris fared well against several high-end wideouts, he struggled at times as well. Pre-free agency extensions and franchise tags may well commence, but as of now Harris, Trae Waynes, Byron Jones and ex-Bronco Bradley Roby are among the top cornerbacks set for free agency.
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