Why Broncos fans shouldn’t sweat CHJ signing with Chiefs

Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill (10) burns and embarrasses Denver Broncos cornerback Chris Harris (25) for a touchdown during the first half at Arrowhead Stadium.
Dec 15, 2019; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill (10) burns and embarrasses Denver Broncos cornerback Chris Harris (25) for a touchdown during the first half at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

On Tuesday, John Elway masterfully executed a trade that filled the Broncos’ biggest hole, with arguably the most talented option available, for just a fourth-round pick and a contract that is a bargain for a player for A.J. Bouye‘s caliber.

While this was a terrific move, it leaves Chris Harris Jr. on the outside looking in, most likely. His tweets after the trade reflected as much when Harris made multiple hints towards signing with the defending super bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs.

“They might have to see me now” referring to the Broncos potentially having to play against Harris. He then added fuel to the fire by going back and forth on Twitter with Chiefs’ safety Tyrann Mathieu as well as Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller, who is based in Missouri.

While the mere notion of Chris Harris Jr. in red and yellow is enough to send chills down the spine of any devoted Broncos fan, it’s far from the scariest potential outcome for the Broncos.

The Chiefs and Raiders are both going to add cornerbacks this offseason, either via the draft or free agency, and Harris is reportedly on the radar of both teams. Would it be painful to see him in the uniform of one of Denver’s most hated rivals? Yes and undeniably so, but there are alternatives that would make the Chiefs and Raiders much better than adding an expensive, declining corner on the wrong side of 30 who just had the worst season of his career.

Harris Jr.’s services will cost the team that signs him north of $12 million annually. The Chiefs currently have just $19 million in cap space and have Chris Jones, three starting cornerbacks (all of which arguably outplayed Harris last season), three offensive linemen that started a combined 59 games over the past two seasons, starting linebacker Reggie Ragland, up-and-coming receiver Demarcus Robinson and one of the league’s best fullbacks in Anthony Sherman all set to hit the open market.

Signing Harris would put strict limits on how many of those guys the Chiefs can bring back, for what is arguably a downgrade on the whole at the position. Even if Harris were to take a heavy pay cut — which he doesn’t seem likely to do considering pay is the primary motivating factor for him leaving the Broncos — and he returns to form, Kansas City’s secondary would be incredibly shallow behind him and they’d be cash-strapped heading into the second-to-last season of Patrick Mahomes’ rookie deal.

If the Chiefs don’t sign Harris, they’ll have at least $12 million more to play with in free agency or re-sign their own key free agents. They’re also in the perfect position to draft a talented cornerback at the end of the first round, who very well could end up being a better player than Harris at this point in their respective careers.

Take away the sentimentality, just look at the facts, and it’s clear the prospect of the Chiefs with Chris Harris Jr. is surprisingly less scary than the version of them without him.

Would you rather?

A) Face a declining cornerback, on the wrong side of 30, with no help behind him and little help elsewhere on defense? Because he’s left the Chiefs with minimal cap space to retain the three free-agent cornerbacks and superstar defensive linemen entering the prime of his career, for the next two seasons.

Or B) Face a highly-touted first-round pick like Kristian Fulton of LSU or Jeff Gladney of TCU for at least the next five seasons, who will give the Chiefs the freedom of spending those $12 million elsewhere to upgrade the team as a whole around him?

The answer seems pretty obvious as far as the long-term success of the Broncos, Drew Lock, and whatever young receiver Denver chooses to draft is concerned. The last time Elway let a Ring of Fame cornerback go, he went out and acquired Demarcus Ware, Emmanuel Sanders, Aqib Talib and T.J. Ward. They have their next Talib in Bouye, now it’s time to see who else they add.

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