KUSA – This isn’t just unusual, it’s unprecedented for John Elway as a general manager.
Elway and the Broncos just tacked on $3 million in incentives on the $8.5 million salary cornerback Chris Harris Jr. will draw in 2018.
The incentives are tied to team wins, individual honors and playing time, according to sources.
Elway has never made such a single-season adjustment to player’s salary since he became the team’s general manager in 2011 so it speaks to how he considers Harris to be a special player in a special circumstance.
Harris received a five-year, $42.5 million contract extension in December 2014 that made him the highest-paid “No. 2” cornerback in the NFL. But now that Aqib Talib has been traded away, Elway is counting on Harris to become his No. 1 cornerback and leader of the secondary.
Remaining on Harris’s contract is the $8.5 million salary with a chance to make up to $11.5 million in 2018, and $7.9 million in 2019.
Harris is a three-time Pro Bowler and was named first-team All Pro in 2016, so it’s not like the incentives are out of reach.
He became a Bronco on a meager $2,000 signing bonus as an undrafted cornerback/safety out of Kansas in 2011. Harris made the Broncos’ 53-man roster as a backup corner and special teamer, then became a starter in game 6 of the 2012 season at San Diego after Tracy Porter fell ill the day before the Monday night game and couldn’t make the plane trip.
Harris had a 46-yard interception return for a touchdown against Philip Rivers that capped a 35-24 win and Broncos comeback from a 24-0 halftime deficit.
Harris’ new cornerback partner this season will be Bradley Roby, who was promoted from No. 3 corner to fill Talib’s spot. Tramaine Brock is expected to be the new No. 3 corner after he was signed to a one-year, $3 million deal with a chance to make another $1 million in incentives. The Broncos also have Brendan Langley, a third-round draft pick last year, and may also take a cornerback in the upcoming NFL draft.