Another step the Broncos have made is re-signing cornerback Chris Harris to his tender, ABC News in Denver said Tuesday. Harris was the casualty of a torn ACL in the playoffs in January, and yet another crucial defender was sidelined for the Broncos during their Super Bowl XLVIII run in 2013.
Harris, a restricted free agent cornerback, signed his tender today. That means he will play the 2014 season for the Broncos at a salary of $2.187 million. Harris is a three-year veteran with Denver, and has a career 191 tackles, seven interceptions with 2.5 sacks.
Harris was a starter for the entire 2013 regular season but suffered a torn ACL in the divisional round of the playoffs and missed the AFC Championship Game and the Super Bowl. He was replaced by cornerback Champ Bailey, who had missed almost the entire season with a foot injury.
Harris' injury was a huge loss for the Broncos defense, as they were already missing linebacker Von Miller, defensive linemen Derek Wolfe and Kevin Vickerson, and safety Rahim Moore all due to injuries. Five defensive starters for Denver were sidelined for the 2013 postseason and despite the impressive run for the Broncos, they ended up losing to the Seattle Seahawks 43-8 in Super Bowl XLVIII.
Harris’ tender offer was at the right-of-first-refusal plus a second-round pick level. As a restricted free agent, another team could have offered him a deal and the Broncos could have had declined. This contract makes that situation null and keeps Harris in Denver. He signed the offer on Tuesday, and couldn't be more happy.
I’m just glad to get it over with and be able to know I’ll be here one more year. I’m definitely happy. This is where I want to be and to be able to play here another year, I’m all in to be a leader on the defense and get us back to the Super BowlHarris was an undrafted free agent out of Kansas in 2011 when he signed with the Broncos, and has led Denver in interceptions with seven in three seasons. No other Bronco has more than four in that span. His 29 pass breakups also leads the Broncos over the past three seasons, and his 191 tackles since 2011 rank 10th among all cornerbacks. Harris has returned his seven career interceptions for 160 yards, and his two pick-sixes tie for eighth among all players since 2011.
Before the devastating ACL tear in the divisional round of playoffs against the San Diego Chargers, Harris' three interceptions tied for the team lead and his 65 tackles were second-most among Broncos’ defensive backs in 2013.
Harris had successful knee surgery in February of this year and expects to be in starting form to begin the 2014 season in September. This is tremendous news for the Broncos, as a healthy Harris will start on the opposite side of newly acquired standout cornerback Aqib Talib from the New England Patriots.
With all the changes already this offseason, the Broncos defense should and could be one of the best in the league next season. Denver has their sights on returning to the Super Bowl in 2014, and they are utilizing free agency the way it is intended. If the Broncos defense can stay healthy, it's easy to envision them in serious contention for a trip to Arizona next February.
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