Chris Harris (CB)

West Notes: Raiders, Rams, Broncos, Chiefs

During the Raiders‘ negotiations for wide receiver Antonio Brown, the Steelers asked Oakland for a second-round pick, and head coach Jon Gruden was inclined to hand it over, as he explains to Peter King of NBC Sports. “Free-agency’s about to start and I’m thinking, ‘Man, all these slot receivers are going for $10MM. Some of these players are going for $15MM. Why don’t we just give [the Steelers] the second? Get Antonio Brown!’” In the end, the Raiders sent a third-round (No. 66) and a fifth-round pick (No. 141) to Pittsburgh. Based on Chase Stuart of Football Perspective‘s trade chart, those two choices equal the value of the 41st overall selection, so the Raiders did essentially part ways with a second-rounder. Oakland also guaranteed Brown $30.125MM and increased his three-year earning capacity to more than $50MM.

Here’s more from the NFL’s two West divisions:

  • The Rams aren’t giving up any more details about the status of Todd Gurley‘s left knee, but the club does have an “individualized workout plan” for the star running back, one that doesn’t involve him participating in OTAs, as Lindsey Thiry of ESPN.com writes. Gurley’s knee condition — the one that forced him to miss the final two games of the 2018 regular season and limited his action in the NFC Championship Game and the Super Bowl — is likely an issue that needs to be “managed” and cannot be “fixed,” as Vincent Bonsignore of the Los Angeles Daily News tweets. The Rams not only matched restricted free agent running back Malcolm Brown‘s offer sheet this offseason, but traded up to draft Memphis back Darrell Henderson.
  • At one point this year, Broncos cornerback Chris Harris thought he would be traded out of Denver, as he tells James Palmer of NFL.com (Twitter link). Just before the draft, Harris demanded either a new contract or a trade, and he ultimately got his wish, with a new deal arriving on Tuesday. While the veteran defensive back didn’t receive an extension, his total 2019 payout was increased from $8.9MM to $12.05MM. Harris will receive some of that money in the very near future: he got a $650K bonus for reporting to organized team activities, and will get another $600K for showing up at training camp.
  • New Raiders guard Richie Incognito is now a client of Lil Wayne’s Young Money APAA Sports agency, as indicated by agent Ken Sarnoff’s recent tweet. Incognito’s representation won’t earn much of a commission on his one-year deal with Oakland, as it’s a minimum salary contract. Given his lengthy off-field history and his year off from football, Incognito isn’t a lock for the Raiders’ roster.
  • Free agent tight end Nick Keizer will work out for the Chiefs, according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (Twitter link). A 2018 undrafted free agent out of Grand Valley State, Keizer was waived by the Ravens at final cutdowns but was on Baltimore’s practice squad/offseason roster from November until earlier this month.

Chris Harris Eyeing Top Cornerback Contract In 2020

Although Chris Harris is back with the Broncos and set to reprise his role as their top secondary cog, he remains in a contract year. Tuesday night’s pay raise only covers 2019, and the 29-year-old cornerback has big plans for 2020.

I’m ready to roll,” Harris told 9News’ Mike Klis. “I’m ready to get back with the team and start working on the camaraderie with my teammates. I’m the fourth cornerback this year (in terms of slated cash earnings) and after this season I’ll hit free agency and be No. 1.”

Workout bonuses totaling $1.25MM and a base salary bump from $7.8MM to $9.8MM will cover Harris’ $12.05MM payment, which in terms of cash trails only Xavien Howard, A.J. Bouye and Darius Slay, but ahead of Kareem Jackson, which Klis notes (on Twitter) was no accident. The Broncos gave Jackson a three-year, $33MM deal in March. That $11MM AAV was considerably more than Harris, who has four Pro Bowls to Jackson’s zero, was set to make this season.

I just wanted to be the highest-paid cornerback on the team,” said Harris, who held this distinction last year but not during Aqib Talib‘s Denver tenure. “It had nothing to do with Kareem. I just thought I deserved to be the No. 1 cornerback on the team. Nothing against Kareem.”

Both Harris and the Broncos’ initial focus during these talks was a long-term extension, but Klis reports the sides were so far off the conversations shifted to a 2019 pay increase. Harris’ agent came in with a $15MM-AAV and $40MM guaranteed proposal, and Klis notes the sides realized quickly they were far apart on terms. Rather than a drawn-out extension discussion, the Broncos and Harris agreed to this pay raise. The team first offered Harris a $3MM incentive package, similar to what he received last year. Given that Harris only collected $500K of that 2018 incentive money, he did not want to go down that road again.

Contrary to how the Broncos usually approach negotiations, Klis notes John Elway communicated directly with Harris’ agent for these talks but stood firm at $12MM. Team Harris lowered their price to $12.1MM Monday. This turned into $12.05MM by Tuesday. These talks had been ongoing for three months, with Denver7’s Troy Renck noting they began at the Combine. Jackson’s deal, obviously, changed the nature of the discussions. Both Jackson and Bryce Callahan are signed through 2021, though Jackson has opened OTAs as a base-set safety.

Oh yeah, I could (have) pushed it more,” Harris said, via Renck (on Twitter). “I am just glad I can get on the field and be a free agent next year.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Broncos, Chris Harris Rework Contract

The Broncos and Chris Harris have ended their weeks-long impasse. The parties agreed to a reworked 2019 contract, Mike Klis of 9News reports (on Twitter).

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.

Broncos, Chris Harris Nearing Deal

The Broncos and Chris Harris Jr. are “extremely close” to a new one-year deal, according to Mike Klis of 9News (on Twitter). With the final week of OTAs starting on Wednesday, both sides hoping to reach agreement today. 

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Harris is set to earn $8.9MM this year in salary and bonuses. Initially, Harris was pushing for more than $15MM per year on a multi-year extension, but he has since backed down from that asking price. The Broncos are unwilling to tack additional years on to his pact, but they are apparently willing to give him a pay bump for 2019.

Last year, the Broncos mollified Harris’ extension request with a similar measure. A $3MM incentive package got the job done in 2018, but one has to imagine that GM John Elway will have to give more this time around.

Harris appeared in 12 games and posted three interceptions a year ago before suffering a fractured fibula in early December. Pro Football Focus graded Harris, who spent 58% of his time in the slot, as the third-best cornerback in the NFL.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Chris Harris, Broncos

Another hour, another Chris Harris/Broncos update. Earlier today, we learned that Broncos GM John Elway and agent Frederick Lyles Jr. had been progressing towards a contract adjustment. However, ESPN’s Josina Anderson tweets that there’s been “no additional progress” on a new deal.

Naturally, with contradicting reports like this, the sources are attempting to accomplish something. Following this latest tweet, we can surmise that at least one party (presumably Harris’s camp, although that’s purely speculation) aren’t content with the current negotiations. In other words, while there was optimism earlier today that a new deal could soon be finalized, that may no longer be the case.

To review, Harris is set to earn $8.9MM this year in salary and bonuses. The veteran was looking for a raise and an extension, and it sounds like the Broncos were willing to satisfy part of his request; the front office was reportedly offering the cornerback a pay bump in his walk year.

As our own Zach Links pointed out earlier today, there has been some progress in talks. Harris was initially asking for more than $15MM annually, so his asking price has come down. Furthermore, the two sides have some experience with these types of negotiations, as the Broncos gave Harris a $3MM incentive package last year.

The 29-year-old has yet to practice within the Broncos’ revised 3-4 scheme due to his protest of the club’s voluntary offseason program. There was some hope that the two sides could come to an agreement in time for the Broncos’ final stretch of OTAs on Wednesday.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Broncos, Chris Harris Moving Towards Deal

Broncos GM John Elway and agent Frederick Lyles Jr. have moved closer towards a contract adjustment for Chris Harris, according to Mike Klis of 9News (on Twitter). Harris is presently scheduled to make $8.9MM this year in salary and bonuses but is pushing for a pay bump and an extension. 

Harris might not get the extension he wants, but the Broncos are offering him a pay raise in his walk year. There’s cautious optimism about a deal being reached by the time the Broncos reconvene for their final stretch of OTAs on Wednesday.

Harris, the last remaining member of the Broncos’ famed No Fly Zone secondary, has yet to practice within the Broncos’ revised 3-4 scheme due to his protest of the club’s voluntary offseason program. Elway is hoping to hammer out a deal early this week that will put Harris in practice on Wednesday or, at minimum, ensure his participation in mandatory camp this summer.

The veteran’s asking price has come down from his initial ask of $15MM+, which makes this an easier gap to bridge. There’s also precedent to suggest that Harris will be open to Elway’s proposed pay bump – last year, the Broncos gave Harris a $3MM incentive package to sweeten his $8.5MM payout and got a Pro Bowl season out of him.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Broncos Rumors: Jackson, Harris, Leary

While the cornerstone Broncos secondary cog remains away from the team, the player that helped (indirectly) create the Chris Harris situation may be slated for a hybrid role. Kareem Jackson has continued to line up at safety during Broncos OTAs, Ryan O’Halloran of the Denver Post notes. Given $11MM AAV in March, Jackson joins Justin Simmons as a first-string safety when the team has used its base formation thus far. However, the longtime Texans cornerback moves into his more familiar role when the Broncos shift to their sub-packages, O’Halloran adds. Jackson spent some of the 2018 offseason at safety and began the regular season there, but once Andre Hal returned after his cancer diagnosis, Jackson was shuttled back to corner.

The Broncos appear to be planning to use Harris and Bryce Callahan as base corners, with Jackson and Simmons on the back line. Denver released four-year safety starter Darian Stewart earlier this year and did not use a draft choice on a safety. Oft-used sub player Will Parks remains behind Jackson and Simmons, however, with Su’a Cravens and Jamal Carter still in the mix. But it is not known yet who Simmons’ sidekick in nickel and dime sets will be.

Shifting to the latest on Harris, here is more from Denver:

  • The ice between Harris and John Elway appears to be thawing. The sides have resumed negotiations, and the All-Pro corner’s $15MM asking price has come down a bit. It appears Harris will be receiving a raise, and Troy Renck of Denver7 tweets the Broncos and their ninth-year corner are discussing what would be a “big” 2019 salary spike. But interestingly, said big raise may just be for this season. Teams normally like to add control in exchange for salary hikes, but at this point, Harris may still be headed toward a contract year and 2020 free agency. The prospective one-year bump centers around the reality that the Broncos need Harris to contend this season, Renck adds.
  • Continuing with the Denver secondary, Simmons is entering his walk year. The 2016 third-round pick became a full-time player for the Broncos in 2017 and was their only defender to play every snap last season (1,078). Simmons is focused on a Broncos extension. “Obviously when it’s all said and done, if I had a choice I would stay here,”Simmons said (via The Athletic’s Nicki Jhabvala, subscription required), “not even a question of looking elsewhere or anything like that.” The Broncos have three starters from the 2016 draft, with Adam Gotsis and Connor McGovern 1.0 also in contract years, but it is not certain any will command lofty salaries. The Broncos’ highest-profile walk-year players are seasoned veterans (Harris, Emmanuel Sanders) rather than rookie-salary cogs on the verge of big money.
  • Ronald Leary has ended both of his Broncos campaigns on IR, last season’s Achilles injury occurring in October. But the veteran guard is set to be back as a starter, after seeing $5MM in 2019 injury guarantees kick in earlier this year. The 30-year-old blocker is on track to begin participating in OTAs next week, Alex Marvez of Sirius XM Radio tweets. The Broncos have moved Leary back to right guard, where he played in 2017. Leary was not on board with being moved to left guard last year, Marvez adds. Second-round pick Dalton Risner is expected to be Denver’s starting left guard.

Latest On Broncos, Chris Harris

The Broncos and cornerback Chris Harris have made progress on a new deal, according to Mike Klis of 9News. There’s no agreement yet, but GM John Elway has exchanged multiple contract proposals in recent days with Harris’ agent. 

Harris has abstained from the Broncos’ voluntary workouts with the goal a lucrative multi-year extension. But, in what may be a promising development, the talks are currently focused on adjusting Harris’ 2019 payout of $8.9MM, the final year of his current deal. The Broncos gave Harris a $3MM incentive package to sweeten his $8.5MM payout last year and Elway seems poised to do something similar to keep his star cornerback happy.

Harris’ asking price has also come down from his initial ask of $15MM+, Klis hears, which should help to bridge the gap. Still, the Broncos will have to offer something of significant to ensure Harris’ presence for mandatory camp and the start of the regular season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Poll: How Will Chris Harris’ Holdout End?

Tied with Von Miller as the Broncos’ longest-tenured player, Chris Harris has opted to stay away from his team’s offseason work thus far in an effort to secure a new contract. Given that the All-Pro cornerback has been one of the top players at his position for many years, and his place financially among active corners, it makes sense.

Harris is entering the final season of a five-year, $42.5MM deal. This contract was considered to be Broncos-friendly at the time, and as the former UDFA helped anchor dominant Denver secondaries the next two years and kept his Pro Bowl form going into his late 20s, it became one of the NFL’s best bargains. But the Broncos changed the equation this offseason, signing Kareem Jackson to a three-year, $33MM contract — in a move largely responsible for this situation.

Considering Jackson is a year older than Harris and has four fewer Pro Bowl honors (4-0), this looks like one of the more justified holdouts in recent memory. (Though all of the missed workouts have been voluntary thus far, Harris appears intent on continuing his absence through mandatory team activities.) Will John Elway end up redoing his top corner’s deal? The Broncos provided an incentive package last year; it does not sound like that will be an option this time.

Despite a trade-or-extension demand from Harris’ camp, Elway kept the ninth-year defender through the draft and has exchanged offers with the disgruntled standout. Harris’ current deal stands to pay him $7.8MM this season — 26th among corners in terms of AAV. Jackson, brought in because of the Broncos’ inability to develop a reliable corner opposite Harris after trading Aqib Talib, sits 14th on this list.

Elway has a history of being a hard-line negotiator, but the GM has taken care of his own on several occasions — Miller, Demaryius Thomas, Ryan Clady and Champ Bailey being notable extensions. The Broncos’ trade for Joe Flacco suggests they believe they can compete for a playoff spot this season. Removing Harris from the equation would make that a more difficult task. The Broncos were 6-6 last season but lost their final four after late-season injuries to Harris and Emmanuel Sanders.

But Harris is going into his age-30 season. The Broncos are also in better shape at corner, with Jackson and Bryce Callahan in the fold. Harris’ play has not tailed off, with Pro Football Focus grading him as the No. 3 overall corner last season, but counting on a corner to remain a top-tier cover man into his early 30s is somewhat dicey. This explains the parties discussing a short-term deal. Elway extended Bailey when he was entering his age-33 season, and the recent Hall of Fame inductee delivered two more Pro Bowl campaigns before suffering a major injury in 2013.

While Harris has accomplished more than new $15MM-per-year corner Xavien Howard, his age has surely given the Broncos reservations about meeting his $15MM-AAV asking price. Should the sides reach an agreement, a compromise seems likely. Ten corners earn between $12-$14.5MM annually.

If the Broncos’ final offer ends up being too low, Harris could opt to bet on himself and hit free agency in 2020. But walking away from money now and entering free agency in advance of an age-31 slate would be much riskier now than had he done this prior to free agency in 2015.

A trade would have made more sense during the draft, but that endgame could still be in play if it becomes clear there is no post-2019 future for Harris in Denver. But will another team give the Broncos reasonable value at this point in the offseason? It may take an injury to a key performer to induce a suitor to submit a fair offer for a 30-year-old talent in a contract year.

How will this process end? Vote in PFR’s latest poll and weigh in with your thoughts in the comments section.

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AFC Notes: Smith, Harris, Broncos, Raiders

Telvin Smith‘s announcement that he would spend the 2019 season away from football was one of the more surprising developments in recent years. Smith is only 28, and no one seems to be sure exactly what happened or why. That apparently includes the Jaguars, as the team has yet to have any “one-on-one communication with him” since his announcement, according to Albert Breer of SI.com. The 2017 Pro Bowler had just said a couple of days before that he wanted to stay with the Jaguars, which followed a rocky offseason between the two sides which included trade rumors.

Breer also notes that those trade rumors might not be dead quite yet. Breer says he knows of teams that were interested in trading for the linebacker before the draft, and that those teams “are keenly monitoring the situation” as it unfolds. It wouldn’t be totally shocking if a trade materializes at some point. Smith has started 60 out of a possible 64 games for the Jaguars the past four seasons, and he’s had multiple interceptions in each of the past three campaigns.

Here’s more from the AFC:

  • Speaking of Smith, Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone emphasized he wasn’t thinking about football when it came to his player, per the team’s official site. “For me, I kind of put football to the side,” Marrone said. “That, to me, is an afterthought right now in concern with Telvin.” He continued, saying “I really believe in my heart that Telvin knows that we’re here to support him in any which way. Not just myself, but the coaches, the organization, his teammates. I’m sure he’s aware of that. All we can do is make sure we pray. He knows that if he needs some support, obviously we’re here for him.” Marrone also said the team would welcome him back if he chooses to return.
  • Things appear to be inching in the right direction between the Broncos and cornerback Chris Harris. We heard last week there had been some communication, and then just a couple of days ago that the two sides had exchanged offers. Harris, who has made the Pro Bowl in four of the last five seasons, is scheduled to make only around $8.5MM in 2019, and is looking for a substantial raise. He was originally reported to be seeking at least $15MM annually, and it’s unclear if he’s backed down from that. Denver’s GM John Elway and Harris’ agent spoke again today, according to Mike Klis of Denver 9 News (Twitter link). Klis reports that “negotiations are focusing on short-term deal,” so it doesn’t sound like Harris will be landing anything super long-term as he enters his age-30 season. It sounds like things are progressing toward a deal of some sort, but Klis does caution there’s “still work to do.”
  • The Raiders will have an interesting battle for their backup quarterback job this offseason, with a few ‘big names’ in the mix. Mike Glennon, Nathan Peterman, and Landry Jones are all currently on the roster behind Derek Carr. Vic Tafur of The Athletic writes that he thinks Glennon will be the number two, Peterman has a good shot to stick as a number three, and that Jones doesn’t have much of a chance at cracking the team. Tafur writes that Jones “should hope to get a real look somewhere else come training camp,” and cracks that he’s “getting paid to tell Gruden all of Antonio Brown’s favorite plays from Pittsburgh.” Jones has been decent enough when he was forced into duty for an injured Ben Roethlisberger, but the rest of the league clearly has never thought too highly of him as he’s found it very difficult to find a home after Pittsburgh moved on to Joshua Dobbs and Mason Rudolph.