Denver Broncos cornerback Chris Harris Jr. didn’t show up to voluntary OTAs, which isn’t a huge reason for concern but could extend into the offseason.
Denver Broncos cornerback Chris Harris Jr. was a no-show for the team’s first voluntary OTA with new head coach Vic Fangio at the helm, and Harris’ motivation is clear — he wants a new contract.
Harris is due $7.8 million this year in base salary and counts just over $8.766 million on the Broncos’ cap in 2019.
His salary ranks him 24th in the NFL among cornerbacks, and we know there’s no universe in which Harris is the 24th-best cornerback in the NFL, which is why he’s not showing up to voluntary OTAs.
He wants (and deserves) a new contract.
Speaking with Orange & Blue 760, Broncos insider Mike Klis dropped a couple of interesting notes on the Harris contract.
Keep in mind, the Broncos have publicly stated they will not be discussing a new deal with Harris until after the 2019 NFL Draft, and there was a report coming out of the 2019 Scouting Combine that Harris’ representatives and the Broncos had a productive meeting about the player’s contract aspirations.
Here are a couple of notes from what Klis said about the contract.
1. The Broncos want to get a deal done
Now, keep in mind that Klis is an insider for the Broncos and their front office, not an insider from the player’s perspective here. He says the Broncos want to get a deal done and the way that’s worded makes it seem a bit like the pressure is on Harris.
Of course, the Broncos want to get a deal done with Harris, but what price are they willing to go to?
That’s the big question here. Are the Broncos so motivated to get a deal done that they will give Harris what he wants?
2. The ‘floor’ for a new deal
Klis says the ‘floor’ for a new deal with Harris is going to be $12 million per season, and that figure is based on the $11 million per season the Broncos just gave to Kareem Jackson.
Even $12 million is not unfair for the way Harris impacts games at the cornerback position.
This aspect of the report is certainly from the player’s perspective. It’s also where things could get hairy.
3. The Broncos’ cap space
The Broncos don’t have the cap space in 2019 to be able to change Harris’ current contract. He’s going to have to play on his deal as-is unless he wants to use his base salary and convert it to part of a bonus on a new deal.
The Broncos have creative cap guys and could theoretically find ways to lower Harris’ cap hit this year by giving him an extension, but Harris is going to want a big multi-year deal if he’s going to stay in Denver and the Broncos have to do salary cap gymnastics to add any money in 2019.
4. A trade is ‘always’ an option
Klis said that a trade is an option if even the last option or the least likely.
Both parties want to get a deal done but if they can’t, Klis thinks the Broncos would try to trade Harris during the draft and even speculated that teams might call and offer picks for him.
5. Not even at ‘step one’
Klis says the Broncos and Harris have not even exchanged numbers yet. He says they’re not even at ‘step one’ in this process at this point.
That indicates to me this is only the beginning of this whole fiasco and with a new coaching staff being put into place, it’s not really great timing for a player expected to be a key piece of the defense.
The Broncos will progress forward with Kareem Jackson, Isaac Yiadom, and Bryce Callahan as the top three corners and Harris’ situation will have to play itself out.