The Broncos both traded for A.J. Bouye (and a $13MM salary) and used their franchise tag on Justin Simmons, signaling Chris Harris‘ time in Denver was almost certainly up. The four-time Pro Bowler said during an NFL Network appearance the door is “pretty much” closed on a 10th Broncos season (Twitter link via The Athletic’s Nicki Jhabvala). The decorated cornerback is expected to have at least 10 teams pursuing him, Troy Renck of Denver7 tweets. The Browns, Cardinals, Chargers, Chiefs, Cowboys, Jets, Lions, Raiders, Seahawks and Texans are expected to have “strong” interest in signing the 30-year-old defender, Renck adds. This list interestingly omits the Eagles, who have been linked to Harris at multiple junctures over the past five months.
Although Harris is arguably the best slot cornerback in NFL history, his consistent usage as a boundary player as well will likely push his market near the current corner standard of $15MM per year. He turned down the Broncos’ three-year, $36MM proposal before the trade deadline.
Here is the latest out of Denver:
- Denver’s Week 1 starting defensive line consisted of Derek Wolfe, Shelby Harris and Adam Gotsis. All three are poised to hit the market, with Gotsis doing so after being benched early in the season. Shelby Harris would prefer to stay in Denver but has acknowledged, at 28, this is his lone chance at a big payday. The Colts are among the teams interested in the late-blooming D-lineman, Renck notes.
- On the Wolfe subject, the eight-year veteran has been the most vocal about returning to Denver. His agent’s Combine meeting with the Broncos led him to believe he will hit the market. “[The Broncos] talked to my agent at the Combine. … It looks like they’re going to let me hit free agency, see what the market is,” Wolfe said during an interview with KOA Radio (via DNVR Sports’ Andrew Mason, on Twitter). “… It’s a nice way of saying, ‘We like you; we love you, but not for that kind of money.” The Broncos may bring back Wolfe or Shelby Harris, but not both. The team drafted Dre’Mont Jones in Round 3 last year, so it may be covered at one of its defensive end spots. Wolfe, 29, said during an interview with Sirius XM Radio (audio link) he is eyeing two to four more seasons.
- The Broncos’ interest in a running back stems not necessarily from their current regime’s desire to replace Phillip Lindsay but to complement him, per Renck, who adds the team is expected to add a bigger back in either free agency or the draft. Royce Freeman has underwhelmed in that role over the past two seasons.
- The Broncos plan to pursue a guard on the market, Renck notes (on Twitter). They declined Ronald Leary‘s 2020 option, so a replacement will be needed. They also may try to add a swing tackle and are likely to draft a tackle, which makes sense given left tackle Garett Bolles‘ struggles.
- Elijah Wilkinson was supposed to work as a Broncos swing man in 2019, but Ja’Wuan James‘ near-season-long absence thrust Wilkinson into Denver’s right tackle spot. He spent time as a first-string guard in 2018 and stands to factor into the Broncos’ 2020 plans at one of those two positions. The team is expected to use a priority tender on Wilkinson, per Renck. This will likely mean a second-round tender. That will cost more than $3MM.