Chris Harris gives Denver Broncos an ultimatum in contract dispute

Denver Broncos

Chris Harris wants the Denver Broncos to pay him like one of the top cornerbacks in the NFL or find him a new team that will

Pro Bowl cornerback Chris Harris, unhappy with his current contract, is giving the Denver Broncos two options: either give him a new contract or trade him.

Harris wants a pay raise from the $7.8 million he’s due to earn in 2019, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. The 29-year-old is on the last year of a five-year, $42.5 million deal he signed with the Broncos in 2014 and is willing to sit out if the team doesn’t give him what he wants. Harris skipped the Broncos’ voluntary workouts earlier this month.

Originally an undrafted free agent out of Kansas in 2011, Harris has played his entire eight-year career in Denver. He made his fourth Pro Bowl last season, was an All-Pro in 2016 and a starter on the Broncos’ Super Bowl 50 championship team. Harris’ average salary, though, ranks only 24th in the NFL among cornerbacks. The Broncos seemed to anticipate having problems keeping him when they signed cornerback Kareem Jackson to a three-year, $33 million deal in March. Jackson is a year older than Harris and has never made a Pro Bowl, but will make $3 million more than him this season.

Harris is believed to be seeking a deal at least worth as much as Jackson’s, according to Mike Klis of 9News in Denver. The problem for the Broncos, though, is that they have little flexibility to give Harris more money and stay under the salary cap. The Broncos only have $11.9 million in cap space remaining for 2019. John Elway, Broncos’ general manager, said on Tuesday that the team isn’t even considering offering Harris a new deal right now.

“I don’t have time right now,” Elway said during his press conference to talk about the upcoming NFL Draft. “I’m busy with the draft. We’ll talk about Chris. He’s under contract, so we’ll talk about that when the draft is over. When I say this, I said we’re going to talk about it. It doesn’t mean we’re going to do it.”

Behind Harris, the Broncos best options in the secondary are Jackson and Bryce Callahan, who started 10 games with the Chicago Bears in 2018 and signed a $21 million free agent contract last month. They’re also shifting to a new regime under head coach Vic Fangio, former defensive coordinator for the Bears. The Broncos were 20th in passing defense last season but ranked fourth in 2017 and led the league in both 2016 and 2015, the year Harris and the defense led them to the Super Bowl.

In 123 career games with the Broncos, Harris has 19 career interceptions, including four returned for touchdowns.

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