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Chris Harris Jr. happy to be on an island; really happy to be a Bronco

The Broncos' cornerback knows he's worth more money 'on the market' than his five-year deal might suggest, but that doesn't matter to him. Playing for the Broncos, being 'on an island' and having a better opportunity to make more plays this year are what he's about.

Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

While most of the sports media logically grabbed onto Chris Harris Jr.'s comment about him and Aqib Talib being "on an island even more" in the Broncos new 3-4 defense, my favorite quote had nothing to do with the Pro Bowler's impressive coverage skills (well, not directly).

That was the best thing about signing early - being able to stay here with the Broncos where I wanted to stay.  -Chris Harris Jr.

It was the reminder that we got really, really - and one more just for good measure - really lucky keeping the No. 1 cornerback in the NFL when he signed his five-year, $42.5 million extension in December.

Speaking to the media Monday - ironically the day before Ravens re-signed their young star cornerback Jimmy Smith to $10.25 million/year in a five-year deal - Harris Jr. told the room he knew he was worth more than his $8.5 million/year, but it was never all about the money.

"Everybody knows if I had hit the market that I wouldn't have been here. That was the best thing about signing early is being able to stay here with the Broncos where I wanted to stay," Harris said, admitting that after he signed, friends kept messaging him that he could have made a lot more money. "I'm happy with it."

Back in December, Harris Jr. said to ESPN's Jeff Legwold that being the top-paid corner was never the goal.

"I'm happy being here. I'm not too big on just getting top-corner money or whatever," he said. "I was just focusing on being here and being able to get somewhere in the market of what my play is.''

And that's the best part. By Pro Football Focus grades, the once undrafted free agent was the best corner in the league last year (19 spots ahead of Smith, if you're wondering). But money and "what he deserves" are not the things driving Harris Jr.

Playing with the team he wants, for the fans he appreciates, and the new coaching staff he's excited about are the things he's interested in (unlike, perhaps, oh I don't know, a certain former tight end?)

"The sky is the limit for us," Harris Jr. said. "If we come out and play with great technique and great communication, we should be the best. We've got a lot of talent and a lot of guys that can play multiple positions, so we've got a lot of flexibility."

I'm excited for Wade Phillips to activate me to be able to make a lot of plays   -Chris Harris Jr.

Like many of the Broncos defenders who are getting into the 3-4 playbook, Harris Jr. is looking forward to the changes.

"I'm excited. Just going through the defense, I've already looked way ahead and I'm just learning," he said, adding that the term "activate" in the defense indicates who will make the play. "I'm excited for Wade Phillips to activate me to be able to make a lot of plays."

And also like his teammates on the defense, Harris Jr.'s focus on making a lot of plays is all about one thing.

"My mindset is just winning a Super Bowl," he said. "Doing whatever I can, being able to lead this team, lead my room and the rest of this defense to make sure that we're ready for this year."

Harris Jr. is placing a huge responsibility on himself and Talib for "being ready" and making this defense work next year.

"I would say that it's going to rely a lot more on me and Talib to really make a lot of plays," said Harris Jr. "We're going to be out there on an island a lot, so there is a lot of responsibility on us to be able to shut our guys down."

But as you might expect from the top corner, that island is exactly where he wants to be - and not much different than what he was doing under former defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio. The difference will be in how often Harris Jr. is on that island now.

"Everybody else is going to be a lot more aggressive," he said, noting that his job in the slot will still be blitzing, playing man and doing what he has in the past. "If you play corner you're going to have to be on an island. In this defense, we're just so aggressive that we're going to be on an island even more."

I was definitely irritated, but it's a new year. I'm pretty sure I'll be on him this year.  -Harris Jr. on not covering Colts' T.Y. Hilton

That will go over well with fans who are still a little raw over many of the coverage calls regarding Harris Jr. last season, particularly the decision not to put him in man coverage on Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton in the playoffs.

Apparently, Harris Jr. wasn't too hip on that decision either.

"You always want to cover a guy like him. He's small and shifty. That's what God put me on this earth for - for guys like him," Harris Jr. said. "I was definitely irritated, but it's a new year. We're going to play them again. I'm pretty sure I'll be on him this year."

That was my second-favorite Harris Jr. comment of the day.