I’ll never forget it. One day, we got a call from some PR agent, talking about some guy.
Named Chris Harris Jr.
“He’s available for interviews! Radio! Partnerships!” That was the genesis of the call.
“But who is he?” I thought.
Turns out, he was an undrafted free agent who would go on to become arguably the best cornerback in Denver Broncos history. Turns out, fielding that call, and exploring the ideas and access being offered, was fruitful. Turns out, that since that call, Mile High Sports has always had a great relationship with Chris Harris Jr. Over the years, we’ve covered his on-field play, his charitable efforts, his camps, his bowling parties, his whatever. His wife, Leah, is one of the nicest, most accommodating people on the planet.
But whether or not he ever gave us a quote (he gave us many), the time of day (CHJ always gave us time) or that signature smile for a photo, he was so damn good.
You just had to like the guy. He’s a winner if there ever was one.
And that leads us to two questions – questions that make no sense, answers that might not either:
At two-years, $20 million (which is reportedly what Harris’ new deal with the Chargers is worth), why didn’t the Broncos just bring him back?
And secondly, Chris, why the Chargers?
If this is taken at face value, and money is taken out, Harris Jr. says there’s a great fit with what and who the Chargers defense already is. Fair enough. There’s no doubt that the Chargers should have a formidable defense. There’s also no doubt that they’re in a similar situation as Denver when it comes to the offense. The offense in L.A. is rebuilding at best, hopeful at worst. Tyrod Taylor isn’t taking anyone to a Super Bowl, and draft experts suggest that the Chargers will be – or should be – taking a quarterback with their first rounder. And nobody, especially Las Vegas, believes the Chargers are a threat to win the Super Bowl.
So, at a “mere” $10 million per year, and relatively no shot to win the Super Bowl, why would Harris Jr. sign with the Chargers? Ehemm, Chris… why not the Chiefs or Cowboys?
And speaking of that $10 million, why wouldn’t John Elway just bring Harris Jr. back?
Regardless of what you think the Broncos newly acquired cornerback, A.J. Bouye – who, by the way, will earn $3.5 million more per year average than Chris Harris Jr – you’ve got to ask: Why isn’t Harris Jr. finishing his career in Denver, the place where it all started, the place he brought back the Lombardi Trophy?
Perhaps John Elway believes he can get another impactful cornerback through the draft. Perhaps he believes he’s got one on the roster who’s ready to fill the void. Perhaps there’s more to it than that.
Believe you me, though, Chris Harris Jr. types don’t just grow on trees. He was a special player, and it seems that a $20 million price tag wasn’t that unreasonable for “special.”
So, when looking at the departure of Chris Harris Jr. from Denver, we can only safely assume this: First, Harris Jr. isn’t about to win another Super Bowl with the Chargers. And second, the Broncos aren’t soon finding a cornerback who possesses the impact the Harris Jr. provided at a price tag of $10 million per year.
There are plenty of folks who don’t understand the lack of loyalty – from both sides – in the NFL. There are more yet who don’t understand the finances of pro football. But can anyone explain why this went down this way?
Regardless, and for whatever reason, it feels like this is a lose-lose scenario. Former team can’t replace him (especially at the dollar amount) unless there’s a hidden gem in the draft. And Harris Jr.’s current team needs a quarterback before it’s going to win squat.
Chris! We love you, man! Why not go to Kansas City, collect your ring and terrorize the Broncos for however long you’d like? If you’re a fan of Chris Harris Jr., isn’t that what you’d have liked to see?
And John, we love you, too. Why not ink an incredible player who already sits in your own backyard? If you’re a fan of the Denver Broncos, and you know your team could have brought their Ring-of-Famer back for less money than last season, you’ve got to be disappointed.
On a lot of levels, this one doesn’t add up. For Chris Harris Jr. or for the Broncos.
Or for anyone who cares about either party.