Broncos Rumors

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.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Chris Harris Contract Possibility

  • The Broncos and Chris Harris have made progress on a potential short-term deal. Though they could give Harris another year, one possibility is to just increase his salary this season with money, not incentives, and let him leave in free agency and the end of the year, ABC 7’s Troy Renck tweets. Harris, of course, is entering the final year of his deal and, in April, requested to either get a new deal or be traded.

Broncos Making Progress With Chris Harris, Short-Term Deal Coming?

  • 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.”

Joe Flacco Will Take All First-Team Reps At OTAs

  • New Broncos quarterback Joe Flacco will take all the first-team reps at organized team activities, head coach Vic Fangio told reporters, including Mike Klis of 9News (Twitter link). That’s perhaps unsurprising, as Flacco is fully expected to be Denver’s starter despite the club selecting Missouri’s Drew Lock in the second round. Indeed, Flacco’s performance in early Broncos practices dissuaded general manager John Elway from drafting a signal-caller on Day 1 of the draft. Lock, veteran Kevin Hogan, and undrafted free agent Brett Rypien will compete to become Denver’s second and third quarterback.

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.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFL Draft Pick Signings: 5/14/19

Here are the latest players to agree to terms on their rookie deals:

  • The Chiefs signed the latter of their two second-round picks, safety Juan Thornhill, on Tuesday. Thornhill, who arrived in Kansas City as the No. 63 overall pick out of Virginia, will attempt to move into the starting lineup alongside Tyrann Mathieu as a rookie. Thornhill intercepted 13 passes over his final three seasons with the Cavaliers. The only member of their six-man class left unsigned is third-rounder Khalen Saunders; third-rounders’ deals can be tricky with the current CBA.
  • Four more Seahawks draftees signed their four-year deals Tuesday. Wide receivers Gary Jennings (Round 4) and John Ursua (Round 7) signed. So did sixth-round picks Demarcus Christmas, a defensive tackle out of Florida State, and Travis Homer, Miami-produced running back. Jennings and Ursua, out of West Virginia and Hawaii, respectively, have better odds at contributing this season after Doug Baldwin‘s retirement. Jennings caught 13 touchdown passes last season, while Ursua snagged 16. D.K. Metcalf remains unsigned.
  • Two of the Broncos‘ Day 3 picks — fifth-round outside linebacker Justin Hollins and sixth-round wide receiver Juwann Winfree — became the team’s first 2019 draftees to sign. Hollins, an Oregon product who combined for 11 sacks across his junior and senior seasons, will likely be in good position to see time behind Von Miller and Bradley Chubb. The Broncos lost Shaquil Barrett in free agency and are unlikely to bring back Shane Ray. Winfree will join a young Denver receiving corps, which will likely have four first- or second-year cogs.
  • Only one Lions draft choice remains unsigned after sixth-rounder Travis Fulgham agreed to terms. The Old Dominion-produced wideout will vie for a reserve role behind Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones and Danny Amendola. Third-round safety Will Harris has yet to sign.

Minor NFL Transactions: 5/14/19

Here are Tuesday’s minor moves:

Baltimore Ravens

  • Signed: WR Joe Horn Jr.

Denver Broncos

  • Placed on IR: OL Nico Falah

Indianapolis Colts

Los Angeles Rams

  • Signed: DT Boogie Roberts

New Orleans Saints

New York Jets

Broncos OL Nico Falah Tears Achilles

Nico Falah went down at Broncos practice today, and it doesn’t sound good for the offensive lineman. NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport reports (via Twitter) that Falah is “suspected to have torn his Achilles.” Mike Klis of 9News in Denver confirms the news, saying Falah has torn his Achilles (via Twitter).

The former undrafted free agent out of USC joined the Broncos last October following stops with the Titans and Jets. The six-foot-four, 301-pound lineman made several cameos on Denver’s 53-man roster throughout the season, but he didn’t end up seeing the field for any games.

It’s a tough break for Falah, who had a good chance to earn a roster spot as a reserve lineman. The Broncos have lost a handful of offensive linemen this offseason (including Matt Paradis, Max Garcia, Billy Turner, and Jared Veldheer), and they’ve only added a pair of lineman in free agent Ja’Wuan James and second-rounder Dalton Risner.

If Falah indeed misses the entire season, the Broncos could look to Risner, Sam Jones, Don BarclayAustin Schlottmann as their primary reserve lineman.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Minor NFL Transactions: 5/13/19

We’ll keep track of today’s minor moves here:

Arizona Cardinals

Baltimore Ravens

Buffalo Bills

  • Signed: S Abraham Wallace, OL Garrett McGhin, DT Quindarius Thagard
  • Released: TE Jake Fisher, RB Keith Ford

Chicago Bears

  • Bears Signed: WR Jesper Horsted
  • Waived: G Tommy Doles

Cleveland Browns

Denver Broncos

New York Giants

Philadelphia Eagles

Tennessee Titans

 

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.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.