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Broncos bring back Shelby Harris with three-year, $27 million deal

One of the league's premier inside penetrators, Harris found he had less company in the free agent market compared to last year.
Credit: AP Photo/Adam Hunger
Denver Broncos defensive end Shelby Harris before an NFL football game against the New York Jets, Thursday, Oct. 1, 2020, in East Rutherford, N.J.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — If at first you don’t strike it rich, try, try again.

Right, Shelby Harris?

The Broncos’ 3-4 defensive end used the leverage of free agency a second time to get the fairly big contract he was looking for last year. Harris and the Broncos agreed on a new three-year, $27 million contract on Monday, a source told 9NEWS.

Harris, 29, had a better season in 2019 when he had 6.0 sacks and led the league with 9 pass deflections while playing in all 16 games for the Broncos – stretching his consecutive games played to streak to 48 over three seasons.

Hoping to get a $10 million to $12 million a year contract in free agency last year, Harris wound up lost in a free-agent pool that was loaded with younger, top-flight, interior defensive lineman. He fired two agents before finding Ryan Williams, who helped sign Harris back to the Broncos on a one-year, prove-it-again deal of $3.25 million.

Although Harris entered free agency Monday a year older, and was coming off a 2020 season in which he missed five games because of COVID and injury -- which caused his stats to drop to 2.5 sacks and 7 pass deflections -- the market didn’t have as many quality interior defensive linemen compared to last year.

A strong family man, Harris has said numerous times he wanted to stay in Denver. He had drawn interest from other teams but took the $9 million a year deal with the Broncos.

The breakdown of Harris' contract:

2021: $9 million signing bonus. $1 million salary. Total: $10 million (fully guaranteed).

2022: $7.5 million salary ($5 million fully guaranteed). $500,000 worth of per game roster bonuses. ($29,412 per game in a 17-game schedule).

2023: $8.5 million salary (not guaranteed). $500,000 worth of per game roster bonuses.

So it's really a two-year, $18 million and let's see deal. But not bad.

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