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Josh Norman's ask gives glimpse into what Broncos contract future holds

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Carolina Panthers cornerback Josh Norman is known for his aggressive play and ability to talk, but what is his confidence going to get the Broncos into?

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

"I can’t report [to the Carolina Panthers] I haven’t signed anything so I don’t feel as if I’m at the point where I’m ready to get back to working right now," Josh Norman said on NFL Network's Friday edition of Total Access.

He would go on to rattle off his Top Five NFL Receivers and exclude Odell Beckham, Jr., DeAndre Hopkins and Demaryius Thomas, but the recent media exposure of Norman has pointed to something bigger.

He's looking for $16-million per season to play cornerback for the Carolina Panthers. Also, he deserves it, just ask him.

This offseason Norman received the Panthers' non-exclusive franchise tag, a $13.95 million guaranteed salary in 2016. That is, "no less than the average of the top five cap hits at the player's position (cornerback) for the previous five years applied to the current salary cap, or 120 percent of the player's previous year's salary, whichever is greater."

Take a look at what the Denver Broncos premiere cornerback Chris Harris will be due in salary over the next four seasons:

YEAR AGE BASE SALARY SIGNING BONUS OPTION BONUS WORKOUT BONUS CAP HIT DEAD CAP
2015 Contract details by year 25 $900,000 $2,000,000 - $100,000 $3,000,000 $10,200,000
2016 Contract details by year 26 $6,900,000 $2,000,000 - $100,000 $9,000,000 $15,000,000
2017 Contract details by year 27 $6,900,000 $2,000,000 $866,666 $100,000 $9,866,666 $6,100,000
2018 Contract details by year 28 $7,400,000 $2,000,000 $866,666 $100,000 $10,366,666 $3,733,334
2019 Contract details by year 29 $7,800,000 - $866,668 $100,000 $8,766,668 $866,668

(contract numbers courtesy of Spotrac.com)

There isn't even a single season which Harris even sniffs what Josh Norman will get to play cornerback this season. Forget about Harris reaching the $16 million per season that Norman is seeking ever during the terms of Harris's current contract.

Spotrac:

Harris signed a 5 year, $42,500,000 contract with the Denver Broncos, including a $10,000,000 signing bonus, $24,000,000 guaranteed, and an average annual salary of $8,500,000. In 2016, Harris will earn a base salary of $6,900,000 and a workout bonus of $100,000. Harris has a cap hit of $9,000,000 while his dead money value is $15,000,000.

What Spotrac refrained from mentioning was that Harris took a team-first contract in December 2014 and has defered from showing any regret publicly.

However, he deserves to be paid among the NFL's top five cornerbacks and if not now, he will definitely deserve to be compensated in that range prior to the end of his contract.

This brings up a larger point-- contracts, the Broncos currently have 15 roster members that are not signed for next season, 9 of them are currently penciled in as 2016 starters Von Miller, DeMarcus Ware, Emmanuel Sanders, Mark Sanchez, Britton Colquitt, Darian Stewart, Brandon Marshall and Sylvester Williams and 3 of the 15 are Kayvon Webster, Jordan Norwood and Vance Walker.

That's arguably 10 players that Denver fans would like to have back (minus one of the current 12 signed starters, because I think most would understand Ware retiring. Minus another of the current 12 starters, because Broncos fans could just as easily want Sanchez gone before this season starts). If this offseason was an intense offseason, imagine what 2017 could hold.

Here is the good news, in 2017 the Broncos currently have the 5th most cap space in the NFL ($60,314,229). The other side of that is that of their current roster only 23 players are signed into 2017, that's the least amout of players signed through 2017 in the NFL (the Jacksonville Jaguars currently have 51 players signed through 2017 and lead the NFL in that category). Denver seems fine with making Von Miller the highest paid defensive player in the NFL, so that will eat into some portion and as much as over 33.3% of Denver's available cap dollars for 2017.

The Broncos can establish themselves as a destination resort to upcoming free agents by taking care of guys like Miller, Sanders and Stewart now and through mid-season, but they can win-over the locker room (and save a lot of headaches) by giving Harris a more deserving raise in the form of a contract extension in 2016.

One easy idea that I've advocated for is drafting a quarterback as early as possible, which would free up large amounts of cap dollars for the next 4-5 seasons.