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Free Agent Profile: Defensive Lineman Roy Robertson-Harris

Could Robertson-Harris join his former coach in Denver?

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Kansas City Chiefs v Chicago Bears Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

With the Broncos recently releasing veteran defensive lineman Jurrell Casey and defensive lineman Shelby Harris and DeMarcus Walker heading to free agency, the Broncos could be in the market for some interior defensive lineman. One name that could interest the Broncos is Chicago Bears interior defensive lineman, Roy Robertson-Harris who played for Vic Fangio during his time with the Bears.

Player Profile

Height: 6-5

Weight: 298 pounds

Age: 27 years old

Experience: 4 Seasons in the NFL

Roy Robertson-Harris played his college ball at UTEP and despite being a productive player during his time there, he ended up going undrafted during the 2016 NFL Draft. He ended up signing a college free-agent contract with the Chicago Bears after the conclusion of the draft. Since then, he has turned into a key rotational member of the Chicago Bears defense.

In four seasons in the NFL, all with the Chicago Bears, Robertson-Harris has totaled 75 tackles, 9 tackles for a loss, 7.5 sacks, 30 quarterback hits, and 6 pass deflections. This past season for the Bears, Robertson-Harris played in eight games for them before being sidelined with a shoulder injury. During those eight games, Robertson-Harris totaled 10 tackles, 0 sacks, and 1 tackle for a loss.

Why it makes sense

The Broncos are currently fairly thin along the defensive line. They have Dre’Mont Jones and 2020 rookie McTelvin Agim likely penciled in as their starters right now. They did just release veteran Jurrell Casey and fellow veteran and starter Shelby Harris is set for free agency as well. Also, rotational pass rusher DeMarcus Walker is a free agent as well. So adding depth, competition, as well as a starter or two appears to be a priority. So, adding a player like Roy Robertson-Harris could be in the cards.

Also, he has a history with Vic Fangio and had his best seasons with the Bears while Fangio was there. So, it would make sense for the two-sides to reunite.

Pro Football Focus ranked Robertson-Harris as their 160th best free agent available this offseason.

After going undrafted in 2016, Robertson-Harris has carved out a nice role as a rotational defensive lineman. He’s graded at 67.0 or better in each of the last three years while doing his best work in the run game where his 70.6 run defense grade ranks in the 62nd percentile during that time.

In 2018, under Fangio, he graded out as the 41st best interior defensive lineman that year. Now, he won’t be a starter, but a solid rotational run defender could be a good get with the current depth at the position being is what it is.

Also, his likely asking price will be rather low. He’s coming off an injury-shortened season and is a rotational defensive lineman. Pro Football Focus is projecting him getting a two-year, $9.5 million total with $6.5 million of that deal being guaranteed.

So, reuniting with a solid rotational defensive lineman who knows Fangio, has had his best years under Fangio, and will come cheap could be enticing for the Broncos.

Why it doesn’t make sense

The Broncos could likely do better than getting Robertson-Harris. If they re-sign Shelby Harris, they could just decide to draft some depth instead and allow Dre’Mont Jones and McTelvin Agim, Deshawn Williams, and recently Isaiah Mack to fight out for the final spots along the defensive line.

If they let Harris go, they should spend their money on a more starter-worthy defensive lineman instead of signing a rotational defensive lineman.

Also, if they do add some depth at this position, I’d like to see them add a situational pass rusher. Demarcus Walker filled this role the last few seasons and has done well in that role by totaling 8.5 sacks the past two seasons. So, it would make more sense just to re-sign him instead of getting someone like Robertson-Harris.

Final Thoughts

It makes sense on paper to add Robertson-Harris. He fills a potential area of need, he played under Fangio in Chicago and had his best seasons under Fangio. He also likely will not cost the Broncos much at all, so it makes sense.

I personally would not be upset with this addition, especially if his cost is close to what Pro Football Focus is projecting.

However, re-signing Demarcus Walker may make more sense. He’s younger and has been a more productive pass rusher under Fangio recently. So, I would most likely prefer him over Robertson-Harris.