When last we'd heard from soon-to-be free-agent cornerback Chris Harris, Jr., he was making an appearance on the Rich Eisen Show. Harris told Eisen back in January that he "loves" John Elway and that the Denver Broncos' GM is his "dawg".
Harris said then that there is "a chance" he could re-sign with the Broncos but made it clear that he wants to test the market and see how other teams truly value him. From the sounds of it then, and based on what we'd heard from Harris throughout the 2019 calendar year, it didn't seem likely that he'd even consider an offer from Elway ahead of the free-agent period opening in March.
After all, the Broncos reportedly offered Harris a three-year, $36 million extension ahead of the NFL trade deadline this past season, which didn't include much guaranteed money. The Broncos low-balled him then (in Harris' estimation), so why would Elway suddenly come out of the woodwork with a competitive offer before free agency even opens?
An offer to Harris might be unlikely to happen before March but if it does, Harris will listen. For the first time, Harris has stated publicly that he'd accept an early offer from the Broncos if the price was right.
"Yeah, I think so," Harris told KOA Radio's Big Al and JoJo last week. "I think if they came serious and came with it, definitely. I don't see why it couldn't."
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Harris has at times made it sound like he wants out of Denver, but in truth, at least based on this conversation he had with Big Al and JoJo, he'd rather remain in the Mile High City and finish his career with the team that took a chance on him.
"Man, I hope so," Harris told KOA. "It'd be great to finish here. But hey, we've got to talk to everybody. We've got to see what's going to be the best fit for me, who's going to use me the right way, and take it from there."
On one hand, Harris' curiosity to find out what his value is to NFL teams is strong. On the other, if the Broncos came to the table with a serious multi-year offer that made him not only one of the highest-paid corners in the league, but front-loaded it with some serious guaranteed money, he'd prefer not to leave.
It all comes down to how Elway and head coach Vic Fangio view Harris internally. One would think, considering the lack of depth the Broncos have at cornerback behind Harris, it would be one of the team's top offseason priorities, maybe even more so than re-signing safety Justin Simmons.
But there's been a lot of water under the bridge between Harris and the Broncos' brass. Who knows? Maybe the recent addition of lead contract negotiator and cap czar Rich Hurtado could make a difference and finally get Harris back to the bargaining table with an ear for listening.
Only time will tell but if the Broncos let Harris walk out, they'll truly be tempting fate. Not only is Harris one of the best cornerbacks to ever wear the Orange and Blue, but he's not over the hill quite yet.
He'll be 31 by the time the season rolls around, which is why it'd be in the interest of both sides to front-load a new deal. Get him paid early in the term because as lackluster as Harris' was at times as a full-time outside corner in Fangio's scheme, he was literally the team's only viable cover man.
Maybe Bryce Callahan returns to his pre-foot injury form in 2020. Even if he does, this is the modern NFL. Teams have to have at least two viable corners — if not three — in this pass-happy age.
My bet is that with a healthy Callahan and De'Vante Bausby, Harris' play would more resemble the forms of yore than what it did in year one under Fangio. But again, if either one of those players doesn't bounce back from their injury-riddled 2019 campaign, the talent/depth at cornerback behind them would literally plummet off a cliff sans-Harris.