Chalk up a win for Chris Harris Jr. That much is clear.
The All-Pro cornerback and the Denver Broncos reached a contract adjustment for the 2019 season that bumps Harris’ pay to a reported $12.05 million for the final year of his five-year deal with the team.
Essentially, Harris got a $3.15 million pay raise, much to the surprise of many.
Even as late as Tuesday afternoon, ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter told “The Drive” that he was under the impression that Harris’ re-worked deal with Denver would be of the two-year variety, covering his 2019 season and adding on 2020.
“When I was talking to people this afternoon about this deal, I was under the impression that it was going to be a two-year agreement, that it was going to be one and one. One this year and then one more,” Schefter said. “And so, somewhere along the way, I’m not sure exactly where, it dropped down to one.”
Schefter said that while he’s “sure it’s happened” that a player entering the final year of his contract earned a pay raise without an extension, “It’s unusual.”
The deal is “good” for Harris, Schefter said. “He gets more money this year, and it gets him more in line with the other cornerbacks.”
And, indeed, Harris jumped from No. 25 in annual average salary among all NFL cornerbacks to No. 12 — ahead of Broncos offseason acquisition Kareem Jackson, whose $11 million average annual salary ranks 15th.
But, what’s Denver’s reasoning for the deal?
“That’s the unusual part about it. What is Denver getting back? That he’s going to be there? Like, what was he going to do anyway?” Schefter said. “He had to be there anyway.”
Schefter theorized that, perhaps it’s the Broncos “taking care of the guys that take care” of them. And it could be a move for general manager John Elway and company to stay competitive and reach the postseason for the first time since Denver’s victory in Super Bowl 50.
But ultimately, what’s most likely is that the deal could open a Pandora’s Box for players of Harris’ ilk to seek more money in the final year of their contracts.
“The next time there’s a one-time Super Bowl winner, four-time Pro Bowl selection, then it would be within his rights to go to that team, and they will have precedent for the Broncos paying that player more money,” Schefter said.
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