Chris Harris (CB)

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.

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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.

Broncos, Chris Harris Exchange Offers

The Broncos issued a new contract offer to cornerback Chris Harris on Tuesday, according to Troy Renck of Denver7 (Twitter link), and Harris and his team have made a counteroffer, tweets Mike Klis of 9News.

Harris, who is entering the final year of his contract, first discussed an extension with Denver in March, but after no progress was made, the veteran defensive back in April laid down an ultimatum, requesting either a new deal or a trade. Rumors swirled during a draft indicating a trade could be imminent, but once no swap occurred, negotiations have seemingly become less acrimonious. Harris has indicated he wants to remain on the Broncos’ roster, and general manager John Elway spoke with Harris’ agent for the first time last week.

At one point, Harris was seeking $15MM annually on a fresh pact, but that target is essentially a non-starter. Xavien Howard just barely cleared that threshold to become the league’s highest-paid cornerback last week, and he’s four years younger than the 30-year-old Harris. Denver is certainly open to giving Harris a raise from his current $8.5MM/year rate, but the club may not want to over-invest at corner after signing free agents Kareem Jackson (three years, $33MM) and Bryce Callahan (three years, $21MM) earlier this offseason.

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.

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Latest On Broncos, Chris Harris

Things appear to be inching in the right direction for the Broncos and star cornerback Chris Harris. After weeks of no communication, Broncos general manager John Elway spoke directly with Harris’ agent last week, sources told Mike Klis of Denver9News.

Sources also told Klis that Harris’ camp is holding firm in their demand for more than $15MM annually on a new contract. While it doesn’t sound like a new deal is particularly close, the good news is that a source told Klis rather definitively that the team will not be trading Harris. The last we heard a couple of weeks ago, there had been no talks between the two sides, and teams were reportedly still interested in trading for Harris.

For a while it seemed like a trade was imminent, but Klis makes it sound like a deal was never actually that close to happening. A source told Klis that one team “expressed interest in acquiring Harris in the hours prior to the draft, but backed off” in the end. Harris, 29, has been staying away from the team’s offseason program after demanding a new contract or a trade.

Harris reportedly felt disrespected by the Broncos’ decision to give Kareem Jackson, an older and less accomplished cornerback, a massive three-year, $33MM deal before paying him. Harris entered the league as an undrafted free agent out of Kansas back in 2011, and he’s been with the team ever since.

He’s blossomed into one of the best UDFA signings in recent memory, and has made the Pro Bowl in four of the last five seasons. A three-time All-Pro selection, Harris has a strong sentimental connection with the fanbase since he’s one of the last remaining members of Denver’s legendary Super Bowl winning defense.

For what it’s worth, new Broncos defensive coordinator Ed Donatell sounds optimistic that something will get done soon. “That’s a situation we think is going to unfold in a good way sooner rather than later,” Donatell said when speaking to the media earlier today. A source told Klis that Elway and Harris’ agent plan to speak again next week, “at which time Elway is expected to submit a counteroffer,” so we should have another update on the situation soon.

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No Talks Yet For Broncos, Chris Harris

Before the draft, Chris Harris instructed the Broncos to pay him or trade him. One week later, the Broncos have done neither. 

Broncos GM John Elway indicated that he would discuss a new deal with Harris after the draft, but no talks have taken place just yet, according to James Palmer of NFL.com (on Twitter). Meanwhile, Palmer hears that teams still remain interested in him.

If Harris were to be moved, the draft would have been the logical time for a trade. Several teams have already filled their needs with a cornerback run that started in the second round and the Broncos would have preferred to net immediate help in exchange for one of the game’s best CBs.

Still, there’s a major gulf for the two sides to cross. Harris, who is unquestionably underpaid for what he provides, is seeking a deal worth more than $15MM/year. The Broncos, who have a tight cap situation thanks in part to their signing of Kareem Jackson to a three-year, $33MM deal, do not seem willing to go that far. It’s hard to see the Broncos budging, but then again, GM John Elway claims that he had no trade talks regarding Harris during the draft, so the team must have some willingness to reach a compromise.

For now, the Broncos have Harris under contract through 2019 at a comfortable $8.766MM cap figure. If nothing changes, it’ll be a situation to monitor – it’s not immediately clear whether the veteran plans to show up for work in the summer, or even the fall, without a new deal.

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Latest On Broncos, Chris Harris

The situation surrounding cornerback Chris Harris and the Broncos has taken several twists and turns recently. Harris is seeking a new contract, and so far the Broncos have been unwilling to meet his demands.

That led to the Broncos initiating trade talks, which had been picking up steam recently. We heard early on Friday that the Broncos were deciding between various offers, and a deal appeared imminent. It seemed like only a matter of time before Harris changed teams, and it looked like he would be shipped out sometime during the draft. The draft came and went without Harris going anywhere however, and it turns out a trade was never actually that close to happening.

Broncos GM John Elway said after the draft that the team didn’t have any contact “with Chris or about Chris” this weekend, per Lindsay Jones of The Athletic (Twitter link). Elway also said he’ll resume negotiations with Harris and his agent on a new contract now that the draft is over. If Elway is telling the truth, then the Broncos weren’t ever that serious about moving Harris. Denver didn’t draft any cornerbacks, so it sure seems like they’re planning on having Harris on the roster.

After demanding a new contract or a trade, Harris has toned down his rhetoric and insisted that he wants to stay with the Broncos, who signed him as an undrafted free agent out of Kansas back in 2011. Harris is one of the last remaining players from Denver’s once vaunted ‘No Fly Zone’ secondary, and he’s made the Pro Bowl in four of the last five seasons.

He’s reportedly seeking at least $15MM per year on a new deal, and as of right now the Broncos are unwilling to pay that. Harris reportedly felt disrespected by Denver’s decision to give Kareem Jackson, who is older and less accomplished than Harris, a three-year, $33MM deal this offseason. It’ll be interesting to see if Harris is able to get $15MM annually, but either way it doesn’t sound like Elway plans on trading him anytime soon.

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Chris Harris Trade Imminent?

Broncos star Chris Harris could be hours away from changing jerseys. The Broncos have received interest in the cornerback and something could happen over the next two days of the draft, James Palmer of NFL.com (on Twitter) hears. The offers were strong enough to prompt Denver to make a deal, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link) hears and the Broncos are expected to decide on one of them soon.

Meanwhile, Mike Klis of 9News (on Twitter) has received conflicting info – there is little-to-no trade interest in Harris right now, a source says, so today may be do-or-die for a trade. If Harris is not moved for a second or third round pick, the Broncos may follow through on their original plan of negotiating with the cornerback sometime after the draft.

The Broncos don’t want to meet Harris’ $15MM/year demand, but plenty of other teams might, especially if they don’t have to fork over much in the way of draft compensation. Harris would immediately bolster the secondary of any team he joins and his value may be bolstered by a so-so crop of corners in this year’s draft.

On Thursday night, the Giants made Deandre Baker the one and only cornerback selected in the first round, leaving a group of CBs including LSU’s Greedy Williams, Temple’s Rock Ya-Sin, Michigan State’s Justin Layne, Notre Dame’s Julian Love, Central Michigan’s Sean Bunting still on the board. There’s definitely potential in that group, but none of those players would match the immediate impact of Harris.

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Latest On Broncos, CB Chris Harris

Chris Harris wants a new contract that will pay him upwards of $15MM/year. The Broncos don’t want to give it to him, which makes sense given their cap situation. However, the logic behind their stance is a bit puzzling.

[RELATED: Broncos Unlikely To Take QB At No. 10]

The Broncos are wary about paying Harris near the top of the market with his 30th birthday on the horizon, Albert Breer of The MMQB hears. Meanwhile, they’re just weeks removed from giving Kareem Jackson a three-year, $33MM deal, which was the richest deal ever given to a cornerback in his 30s.

If Harris is moved, it’s possible that the Broncos will shift their focus to cornerbacks in the draft. But, right now, it seems more likely that the Broncos will target inside linebacker, defensive line, and tight end.

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