The Denver Broncos’ second-longest tenured player, Chris Harris enters both his third decade and his third era in 2019 as a member of the Broncos’ secondary.
He began his career in the era of the great Champ Bailey as the underdog-turned-rising star. And then as Bailey’s star dimmed, Harris paired with Aqib Talib to form one of the most dominating CB duos the league has ever seen. Together with T.J. Ward and Darian Stewart, they formed the No Fly Zone and made a mark on NFL history.
In the wake of the No Fly Zone’s slow decline, John Elway has hit the reset button on the secondary, and Chris Harris is now firmly in Bailey’s old role: the elite veteran leader at the core of the group. With an exciting new coaching staff bringing new schemes to the table, look for Harris to shine again this fall.
Chris Harris Jr. Profile
Height: 5-10 | Weight: 199 pounds | Experience: 8 years
Arm length: 33 1/2” | Hands: 9 1/4” | 40 yard dash: 4.48
Bench press: 14 reps | Vertical jump: 34” | Broad jump: 121 inches
20 Yard shuttle: 4.20 seconds | 3-Cone drill: 7.01 seconds
Note: Harris was not invited to the 2011 NFL Combine. All numbers above were recorded at Kansas State’s pro day.
Chris Harris is simply one of the best cornerbacks in Denver Broncos history, and is arguably the original star slot cornerback upon whom today’s prototypical slot defenders are modeled. Moreover, he’s arguably the most versatile corner in the NFL, able to play both the outside and the slot at a very high level. The team is significantly better now that he’s returned from his early-offseason contract dispute.
Harris is a masterful technician and a devoted student of the game. His scheme versatility, attention to detail, and continuous study of his opponents allows him to consistently outmaneuver and beat wide receivers who are often more athletically gifted than him. In 2019 he’ll bring the Broncos lockdown coverage on almost any receiver in the NFL, and 2 or 3 potentially game-changing interceptions. And his experience will allow him to help the guys around him be in the best position to succeed as well.
The elephant in the room regarding Harris is just how long he’ll be in a Broncos uniform. Having previously given the team a hometown discount on his 2nd contract, Harris sought a raise and extension earlier this offseason but got only the raise. That leaves Broncos Country, and Harris himself, wondering what the 2020 offseason holds for the star corner.
The aforementioned contract dispute centered in large part around Harris’s age. He’s now officially on the “wrong” side of 30 (albeit by just 9 days as of this post’s publishing), and that’s a number that often makes NFL teams and fans alike start getting gun-shy. You never know how well a player will age, though Harris in particular is a guy who could eventually have a very nice second-phase career as a safety.
While 2019 might be his final ride with the Broncos, Chris Harris did leave the door open for John Elway and the team to bring him back in 2020. It just might be out of Denver’s price range.
“I’m definitely giving them a shot. Definitely, I’m not ever going to, like I told ya’ll earlier, the situation can always be salvaged and worked out. I’m going to go do my thing. Then at the end of the year, whatever, whenever, I’m definitely giving them a fair chance, for sure.”
Harris’ goal is to retire a Bronco, but that is something that might be out of his hands come next offseason.
“I don’t know. Like I said, I’m taking it day by day. I’ve always said I wanted to retire here, and that’s always been my mentality here. So, if I have to go show them 16 games that I have to retire here, I’m going to do it.”
Chris Harris highlights
Chris Harris’ roster status with the Broncos
Harris is an absolute lock to make the Broncos’ final 53-man roster and will be the team’s CB1 again in 2019. We can look forward to him giving wide receivers headaches and bad stat lines yet again.
The questions around Harris are all of the long-term nature, injury questions included. Don’t let the sudden cutoff in his 2018 game logs fool you - a simple broken leg, which he would have returned from had the team made the playoffs (and which he did return from in time to dominate at the Pro Bowl), isn’t a big cause for injury concern in 2019.
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