Chris Harris, Jr. is relishing his opportunity to test the NFL free-agent market. The Denver Broncos' four-time Pro Bowl cornerback has a lot to look forward to if there's any veracity to the latest buzz coming out of the NFL Combine.
It would make sense that the Dallas Cowboys would have interest in Harris, as the team is poised to lose CB Byron Jones to free agency. Considering the Broncos' reported interest in Jones, it wouldn't be inconceivable to see him end up swapping jerseys with Harris.
However, with a market that includes 75% of the NFL, if Dallas wants Harris, they'll have to pay the fee, which is the same reason Jones is hitting unrestricted free agency. Dallas doesn't have the coin.
The Philadelphia Eagles are another team who could pursue Harris. Denver7's Troy Renck reported on Monday that the Raiders, Texans, Jets, and Lions also could be among those teams interested in signing Harris. The market for Harris is going to be significant which means that if the Broncos want to re-sign him, they're going to have to compete financially.
On a positive note, Dove Valley insider Cecil Lammey of 104.3 the FAN reported on Monday upon his return from the Combine that the Broncos are still very much in play for Harris, Jr., as is fellow free-agent Derek Wolfe. Speaking specifically of Harris, Wolfe and Shelby Harris, Lammey likes the Broncos' odds of bringing back two of the big-three.
I think Wolfe and Chris Harris might be the two the Broncos can most likely keep.
Spotrac has Harris' value at just over $11 million per season. Considering Harris, Jr.'s soon-to-be 31-year-old age, perhaps there's some veracity to Spotrac's projection of his value on the open market.
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However, we've heard since last spring that Harris is intent on becoming one of, if not the, highest-paid corners in the NFL. That would mean $15M/year or more. That rains on Spotrac's parade somewhat.
If Harris' camp indeed met with 24 NFL teams at the Combine, that means his value on the open market is going to approach the top end. It wouldn't surprise me if he re-set the market, even considering his age, on a relatively short-term deal. Think two- to three-year deal.
If that's what it'll cost the Broncos to bring him back, I have a hard time seeing him return because even though there were mitigating circumstances, Harris didn't have a great year one in Vic Fangio's scheme. The Broncos might just cut bait if they're unwilling to compete financially and throw in with a younger corner with more long-term upside like the aforementioned Jones, or maybe even just pull the trigger on a trade with Detroit for Darius Slay.
It'll be interesting to see how this story takes shape in the coming weeks. Undoubtedly, though, Harris' market is heating up and the Broncos are going to have to play ball if they want to even be in the conversation for his services in 2020 and beyond.
NFL free agency begins on March 18 with the legal tampering window opening two days prior. There's nothing to preclude the Broncos from negotiating with Harris' camp now. In fact, GM John Elway would be best served to do whatever he can to prevent Harris from hitting the open market, if he wants to keep him in Denver. Armed with $70 million in cap space, Elway can afford to splurge a little if he believes Harris still has a few miles left in the tank.