Dear John & Chris -
It’s been a while since I was reeling from recent news so much I felt compelled to write a letter. And this time isn’t quite the level of disgust I normally reserve for such letters.
But as this contract story has played out over the last 24+ hours, I am getting more annoyed at how both of you - yes, both - are handling the negotiations.
John - it is well-documented that you are frugal, some (me) might even say cheap.
That’s understandable. You are the GM, and lord knows if I were head honcho, this team would have 204 players and be broke.
So I appreciate that you have always enjoyed being “the buck stops here” guy, and you bring the same competitive spirit to the front office that you always did on the field.
But COME. ON.
There is nothing weak about acknowledging some players are worth the money, and you can actually respect their talent by giving them what they’re due. Maybe it’s not $15 million, but it sure as heck is more than $8.5 million.
And while most players approaching 30 are not worth the best contract of their careers perhaps, some are. Some - such as Chris Harris Jr. are due that contract partly because they should be rewarded for what they have meant to the franchise, even if they won’t be able to live up to it for more than two or three years.
The point is that they already lived up to it.
Chris Harris Jr. limited receivers to just 0.75 yards per coverage snap from the slot pic.twitter.com/VgPV93jUkg— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) April 20, 2019
But most importantly, you have to learn how to deal with players on a more personal level even if, to you, “it is strictly business.”
You should absolutely not follow the Docllv School of Negotiating - “How much did you say you wanted? OK. Here’s a bonus just for being cool, too.”
But stop with the constant underselling.
You did it with Von Miller, and it almost cost the Broncos the best edge rusher in the NFL.
You did it with Matt Paradis, and it did cost you the best offensive lineman the Broncos have had in years.
You are about to do it with Chris Harris, Jr., and it’s going to cost you one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL as well as one loyal Bronco.
You brought in a 31-year-old corner for $11 million a year, more than $2 million more than a Pro Bowler who has already taken a hometown discount. So don’t get stubborn when he seems a little miffed by a perceived “message” - whether true or not.
Check your ego at the door and talk to CHJ like the Super Bowl-winning Pro Bowler he is.
Leading in to Harris absence was DEN signed Kareem Jackson to 3-yr deal for $11M per. Jackson, 31, one year older and has 0 Pro Bowls or 4 less than Harris.— Mike Klis (@MikeKlis) April 24, 2019
Problem: Broncos have just $11.7M in cap space, less in cash budget. And Broncos coming off 5-11, 6-10. #9sports
And Chris. Chris, Chris, Chris.
Early reports made it sound as though your agent and the Broncos have been in recent discussions that went south.
But as more unraveled throughout the day, it seems your Tuesday midnight ultimatum (not the best tactic with Elway, by the way) was based primarily on your inference from Elway’s replies to reporter questions at his news conference earlier in the day.
“I just go off what y’all (the media) ask him in the press conferences and you see what he said,” Harris told The Athletic on Wednesday.
This is a poor choice.
First of all - and I’m speaking from experience of sitting in on many news conferences as well as listening to “coach-speak” and “GM-speak” at far too many of them - do not base your thoughts on this contract according to what Elway tells a room of reporters (many of whom suck at reporting “news” anyway, plus it’s really easy to take those comments in a vacuum and make them seem worse than in the true context of a random question two days before the draft if Elway was going to finalize a deal).
And for goodness’ sake, do not play this negotiation out over Twitter.
The fact that you are quoted in The Athletic on Wednesday also saying the negotiation “can be salvaged” is good news for the team and fans alike.
But the drama you escalated after Elway’s comments to reporters should never have happened.
My advice is to do what Von did. Let Elway get through the draft. He’s not going to bite on a $15 million ultimatum one day before some of the most stressful three days of the year for him.
After the draft dust settles, meet with Elway one-on-one. Leave the agents and the lawyers outside (they’re greedy bastards anyway), and just talk to the boss. Tell him why you want to stay in Denver but why you should be compensated. Remind him how much Vic Fangio’s defense needs you, especially with a ‘win-now’ mentality that Elway obviously has employed by getting Joe Flacco for the next couple of seasons while the Broncos sort out their long-term quarterback deficiency.
You have the leverage, but you can’t back Elway into a corner (pun intended).
Watch ‘The Drive’ a few times and remind yourself that Elway gets out of corners - and it would be a shame to get out of this one without the best corner.
There’s no reason the “Chris Harris Jr. era” has to come to an end in Denver.
The team needs you.
The fans want you.
You love Denver.
So both of you need to figure this out.
And Broncos PR ... for the love of all things Orange and Blue, get your social media game together to avoid this fiasco again.
Not if we don't have @ChrisHarrisJr in that crew.— Doctor of Words (and tights and positive thinking) (@docllv) April 25, 2019
Hope this thaws things out. Our bad, we got you ✊ pic.twitter.com/sdMs4KhjIp— Denver Broncos (@Broncos) April 25, 2019
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