Examining the details of the Chris Harris extension

The details (or at least the raw numbers) of Chris Harris's contract extension have been posted over at Over The Cap, and they're pretty interesting. What first jumps out is that the fully guaranteed portion of the deal is only the $10M signing bonus Harris received.

The initial report from Mike Klis said the deal included $24M in guarantees, including $18M over the 2015 and 2016 seasons. To be frank, I should have seen through that before suggesting the full guarantee might be as high as $18M. A look at other cornerback contracts should have made clear that Harris wasn't getting anywhere close to $18M in full guarantees.

By higher math, we can now discern that $14M in guarantees are for injury only. Those cover his salaries for 2015, 2016, and 2017.

And that's where the second most notable part of Harris's deal comes in: his 2015 salary is just $900K.

Now, granted, Harris was playing out his restricted tender this year at $2.187M, so functionally, we should think of his $10M signing bonus as part of his 2015 compensation. But from a cap perspective, that bonus gets amortized between the 2014 and 2018 seasons (the cap hit of a signing bonus may not be spread beyond five years).

So between his $900K salary, the $2M hit of the bonus proration, and a $100K workout bonus, Harris will count for a measly $3M next season. Obviously, this deal was structured to maximize Denver's available cap space next offseason, when the Thomases and several other starters are scheduled to hit free agency.

The rest of Harris's salaries are as follows:

  • 2016: $6.9M
  • 2017: $6.9M
  • 2018: $7.4M
  • 2019: $7.8M

He's due a $100K workout bonus each year from 2015 through 2019, and there's apparently some other bonus due in 2017 that amounts to $2.1M and is amortized over the 2017-19 seasons. Honestly, my caponomic understanding isn't deep enough for me to guess the form; it's not a roster bonus.

The dead money hits for releasing Harris are pretty significant through 2017, when the number is $6.1M. It's only his age 28 season, and the guarantee is for injury only, but you never know in the NFL. Point is, the cap exposure for Denver is greatest through that year. The Broncos got a ton of cap flexibility from Harris for 2015, but in return they made him difficult to cut for three years.

His cap number will jump to $9M in 2016 and stay around that level for the remainder of the contract. Of course, two things to keep in mind are that the salary cap should be much higher at that point, and chances are, Denver's quarterback will most likely sport a much lower cap figure starting right around there (shudder to think).

But before they worry about Peyton Manning and his eventual retirement, the Broncos will be focused on getting Demaryius and Julius Thomas re-signed, along with perhaps Terrance Knighton, Orlando Franklin, Rahim Moore, and Virgil Green.

Undoubtedly, the structure of the Harris deal gives Denver the freedom to re-sign whichever of those players they so choose.

(h/t Anthony Gomez)

Doug is IAOFM’s resident newsman and spelling czar. Follow him on Twitter @IAOFM