The Eagles Plan to 'Go Hard' After Broncos' CB Chris Harris, Jr. in Free Agency: Report
Denver Broncos' CB Chris Harris, Jr. is poised to hit the unrestricted waters of free agency in two months' time. The Philadelphia Eagles once had a reported interest in Harris back before October’s trade deadline but based on a new report, it could soon be rekindled.
Tony Pauline of the Pro Football Network reported earlier this week from the Senior Bowl that based on what he's heard from his sources around the league, the Eagles are expected to "go hard" after Harris, as well as other prospective free-agent cornerbacks like Dallas' Byron Jones.
The cornerback-hungry Eagles allegedly balked at Denver’s trade demands of a second-round pick last year in exchange for Harris and the deal fell apart as a result. As Harris dips his toe into the free-agent market for the first time in his decorated career, Eagles' GM Howie Roseman appears to have prioritized him.
Harris' hold-out of Broncos OTAs last spring and some of his subsequent remarks indicate that he's looking to cash in and become one of — if not the — highest-paid corners in the game. As a former undrafted rookie out of Kansas, he's keen to feel wanted and loved by whichever team he signs with going into his 10th NFL season.
“Of course, [you] play better when you know the team really loves you and they want you there," Harris said on December 30th as he cleaned out his locker. "Of course, my next situation will have that and I will know the team loves me and I’ll be all in in trying to figure out what we can do."
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Setting his sights on what may be his last big payday via free agency is something the veteran has fully embraced and planned for after his long stay in the Mile High City. Having already thrown out GM John Elway’s three-year, $36 million offer back in October, Harris switched agents with the goal of gaining a better contract on the open market. Reading into that, Harris wants to do all he can to maximize this free-agency period and prove to all 32 teams that he still has plenty of gas left in the tank.
“I have a lot left. I feel great," Harris said in December. "I was able to play all season, every game and also do a lot more running than I’ve done in the past—chasing the guy around all game, chasing the best player all-around all game, teams doing no huddle, being able to stay conditioned through the whole season with that. It’s a lot tougher than anything I’ve ever done. Trust me..”
Last season certainly proved to be no bed of roses for Harris after going to bat publicly with his desire to play outside corner. Heading into his contract year, he wanted to prove he was a lot more than just a slot corner in order to increase his exposure and potentially add to his value as a true lockdown corner before he became an unrestricted free agent.
His struggles on the outside were compounded by the Broncos' injury problems at the cornerback position, which exposed a lack of depth and forced Harris into a heftier workload as the season wore on. Playing outside and subsequently posting arguably his least-impressive season as a pro, NFL teams might now wonder whether he's a player in decline.
The Eagles don't appear to be of such a mind, though. A couple weeks ago, Harris appeared on the Rich Eisen show and talked about what the future might hold. One thing that the veteran corner made clear is that a return to Denver is still very much on the table.
“Yeah, there is a chance, there is man," Harris said. "We know they need corners there, so I defiantly know I’m probably high on their list for sure."
History tells us that the free-agent market tends to set itself and those tough contract negotiations have a nasty habit of not working out as frequently. A smart, older veteran like Harris will be sure to leverage the Eagles' interest in his services and use it to his advantage when it comes to any other potential suitors, including the Broncos.
If the Broncos want to keep Harris around, odds are, they'll have to be willing to open up the checkbook and compete with other cornerback-desperate teams like the Eagles. However, keeping one's options open is a big part of the cloak-and-dagger free agency game and Harris is intent on playing that element to the bone.