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Chris Harris elects not to report for OTAs, wants new contract

Harris skips opening of OTAs, seeks new contract
Carolina Panthers v Denver Broncos
Posted at 9:36 AM, Apr 02, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-02 13:39:21-04

DENVER — Cornerback Chris Harris Jr. ranks among the most accomplished Broncos players over the last nine seasons. He would like a contract extension to reflect his value at his position. As such, Harris told Denver7 he skipped the Broncos’ first day of optional workouts on Tuesday.

This is not considered a holdout because the workouts are not mandatory until June 4-6. Tuesday featured coach Vic Fangio addressing the group, followed by workouts with strength and conditioning coach Loren Landow.

Harris' situation has been percolating for months. As first reported by Denver7, Harris representatives met with the Broncos at the combine regarding a new deal. Both sides expressed mutual interest, leaving Harris optimistic. His desire has long been to retire a Bronco. However, the Broncos prefer to table the issue until after the draft. They have $11 million remaining in cap space, much of which is earmarked for the draft class.

This does not mean a deal cannot be reached. Harris, who turns 30 on June 18, is seeking a third contract with the team, a scenario played out last by Hall of Famer Champ Bailey. Harris has forged a Ring of Fame career with Denver, morphing from an undrafted free agent into a four-time Pro Bowler and one-time All-Pro in 2016. Harris will make $8.9 million in the final year of his contract. He received a $1 million option bonus earlier this month, so he has $7.9 million remaining in compensation.

It leaves multiple scenarios. Harris can remain absent as he seeks a new deal with the Broncos not budging. Denver could attempt to add more money to his final year, as it did last season, resulting in $500,000 in incentives reached. They could bridge the gap on a contract extension. And, in a less likely path, the Broncos could considering trading Harris during the upcoming draft.

The Broncos invested in revamping their secondary this offseason. They signed cornerback Kareem Jackson to a three-year, $33 million deal with $23 million guaranteed. They followed with addition of slot corner Bryce Callahan on a three-year, $21 million contract with $10 million guaranteed.

9News first reported Harris would not attend on Tuesday.

Von Miller represents the last Broncos player to exercise leverage in the offseason. Miller sat out until training camp before agreeing to a six-year deal worth $114.5 million in July 2016. Harris remaining in peak condition is not a concern. He trains relentlessly in Dallas in the offseason.