The Denver Broncos have agreed to a contract extension with cornerback Chris Harris that is worth $42.5 million over the next five years. According to Mike Klis of the Denver Post, Harris will recieve a $10 million signing bonus. That bonus will be prorated starting in 2014 so the Broncos will use $2 million of their salary cap space now on Harris rather than carrying it over to next season.While I have not seen the yearly cash flows on the contract outside of the signing bonus, the overall numbers read as if it was an acceptance of being a number two cornerback by Harris.
The top players at the position, who Harris statistically compares favorbly to, will earn at least $45 million over the first three years of their contract extensions. Considering Harris will earn$42.5 over 5 it is clear he was not looked at as that level of player. I would have thought that Harris would have fetched in the ballpark of $10 million a season if he had entered free agency. Of course there is always a risk with that line of thinking. Harris still has many weeks of football left to play in which he could be injured. There is also the chance that teams would not view him as a number 1. Last year it was expected that Alterraun Verner would cash in big in free agency and he ended up settling for a number 2 level contract in Tampa Bay. Harris will be the peak earner among number 2 corners.
For the Broncos this marks another in a long line of what look to be discounted contracts for the team. Whether its the Peyton Manning factor or the organization itself, Denver does an excellent job of getting the most value out of their contracts and making players want to play in Denver rather than having to convince them with big money offers. Considering that Aqib Talib’s contract could be terminated at any time it is likely that Harris will take on the number 1 role in the next two years while being paid number 2 money. That saved money can go towards fixing other holes in the future.
In general the cornerback market is very interesting. While nobody will dispute the talent at the top of the market (Revis, Peterson, Sherman, and Haden) there is a major premium paid for those players. It does seem as if name value pushes the pricing at this position more than almost any other and these players have all done an exceptional job of establishing a brand and presence to hammer home the fact how talented they are. Once Revis signs an extension in New England those players will all earn in the ballpark of $14 million a season. The drop from there is between $4.5 and $5.5 million year when we get into the next tier of contracts signed by Sam Shields, Vontae Davis, and Talib. Are those players bringing $5 million worth of additional value? Probably not.
When we can get the full details of the Harris contract we will update his page accordingly.