Chris Harris Jr. will return after Broncos exercise his $1.1 million option

The Broncos' first of many offseason boxes has been checked.

KUSA – The Broncos may be losing one-half of what many considered the league’s best cornerback tandem, but they won’t lose both.

The Broncos have exercised the $1.1 million option on Chris Harris’ contract for the 2017 season, a league source told 9NEWS. The Broncos had between five days after the Super Bowl and five days prior to the start of the 2018 league season – or Friday – to exercise Harris’ option.

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Thus, the Broncos' first of many offseason boxes has been checked.

Chris Harris Jr., celebrates during Super Bowl 50 against the Carolina Panthers on February 7, 2016.. Photo by Timothy Clary/Getty Images.

Picking up the option means Harris will return where his new cornerback partner will not be Aqib Talib but Bradley Roby. The Broncos are actively trying to trade Talib to shed his salaries of $11 million in 2018 and $8 million in 2019.

Once Talib is moved, Harris will unofficially become the Broncos’ No. 1 corner. Roby, the Broncos’ No. 3 corner the past four seasons, will move up to No. 2. The Broncos will try to sign a slot, or No. 3 cornerback in free agency to replace Roby.

Chris Harris and Bradley Roby defend against the Kansas City Chiefs on November 15, 2015 in Denver, Colorado. Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images.

Besides his $1.1 million option, Harris is also to receive a $7.4 million salary and $100,000 workout bonus in 2018. The Broncos would not have paid him $1.1 million if they weren’t going to pick up his other $7.5 million so the option all but guarantees Harris will return.

Not bad for a guy who was converted from cornerback to safety in his senior year at Kansas, a move that partially explained why Harris fell through the scouting cracks and went undrafted in 2011. He initially received a mere $2,000 bonus to sign with the Broncos. Harris joins Von Miller as the team’s co-seniority leaders on defense. Miller was the Broncos’ first-round pick, No. 2 overall, in 2011.

Only receiver Demaryius Thomas, who was a first-round draft pick in 2010, has more Broncos’ seniority than Harris or Miller.

Harris is a three-time Pro Bowler who was named first team All Pro in 2016. He is consistently ranked among the league’s top cornerbacks, as graded by Pro Football Focus.

Chris Harris, wearing #38 in the 2011 preseason, on August 11, 2011 in Arlington, Texas. Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images