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Chris Harris contract update: Progress but no deal yet

GM Elway and agent Lyles have budged in negotiations that are focused on adjusting cornerback's 2019 payout.
Credit: AP Photo/David Zalubowski
Chris Harris signs autographs for fans at NFL football training camp Saturday, Aug. 13, 2016 in Englewood, Colo.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — There is mutual motivation in getting cornerback Chris Harris Jr. signed to a new contract.

Motivation has led to progress, if not yet a contract agreement.

Broncos general manager John Elway has exchanged multiple contract proposals in recent days with Fred Lyles, the agent representing Harris, sources familiar with negotiations tell 9News.

Both sides have moved as Harris continues his unofficial offseason holdout.

In what is a break from the norm, negotiations have limited the focus to adjusting Harris’ 2019 payout of $8.9 million – the final segment of the five-year contract he received in December 2014.

Harris’ scheduled 2019 payout: $1 million option bonus he has already collected; $7.8 million in base salary; $100,000 workout bonus.

In what is believed to be an unprecedented move, Elway is willing to bump Harris’ pay for a second consecutive year even though the player was already under contract.

Last year, the Broncos gave Harris a $3 million incentive package on top of the $8.5 million he was already scheduled to receive. Harris picked up $500,000 of his $3 million incentive package before he suffered a fractured leg that forced him to miss the final four games. (Harris was medically cleared from his injury in time to play in the Pro Bowl in late-January).

This year, the Broncos have offered a straight pay increase, according to sources, while Harris’ asking price has come down from his initial asking price of $15 million-plus.

Limiting negotiations to the current year of a player under contract is unusual because teams that give players a raise almost always do so when accompanied by a multiyear extension. That way the team gets an additional year or so of control on the player in exchange for the player getting more money.

Both the Broncos and Harris, though, are willing to limit negotiations to a current-year adjustment. With four Pro Bowls on his resume, Harris believes he deserves better than his current 25th ranking in 2019 payout.

Then again, Harris is under contract and NFL teams forever have taken the hardline stance that a contract is a contract is a contract. Clearly, Elway views Harris as a special player and is all in for the Broncos in 2019 if he is willing to give the cornerback back-to-back bites at the apple – a raise this year, and a chance to hit unrestricted free agency next year.

Until a deal is done, though, it’s difficult to characterize negotiations as either amicable or contentious, positive or negative. And there is no deal, yet.

Only in Colorado

If they thought the fourth week of May was a safe time to hold a golf outing, they were mistaken.

The Broncos’ annual team golf outing, scheduled for Wednesday at The Sanctuary Golf Course in Castle Pines, was essentially snowed out. With only two weeks of the offseason remaining – the final week of OTAs next week and the three-day mandatory minicamp June 4-6 – before everyone breaks for a five-week vacation, there currently are no plans to reschedule.