As expected, the Denver Broncos exercised Chris Harris’ $1.1 million option to start the 2019 off-season. At 29 years old, Harris is expected to return from a fibula injury sustained during the Broncos’ Week 13 game against the Cincinnati Bengals. Rehabilitation appears to be on schedule and Harris is expected to lead a very thin Broncos Secondary.
Harris, who credits himself with the naming rights to Super Bowl 50’s, “No Fly Zone,” remains among the top cornerbacks in the NFL. Throughout his 8 year career, the undrafted cornerback from Kansas has recorded 19 interceptions, 5 forced fumbles, and 405 solo tackles through 123 games. Harris’ physical mentality covering receivers and his willingness to aide in run support make him a unique defensive back. Harris originally accepted a team friendly deal prior to the Broncos Super Bowl 50 Championship run. He’s a fan favorite and is a respected leader in the locker room. In early March, the Broncos and Harris reportedly engaged in contract negotiations. However, by signing free agent defensive back Kareem Jackson at $33 million with $23 million guaranteed over 3 years, the Broncos can expect an expensive price tag for Harris.
Fast forward to mid March, when Broncos General Manager John Elway introduced Joe Flacco as the new quarterback of the team. Inevitably, the question about the all pro cornerbacks contract status popped up. “We’ll talk about that later once we get through everything,” Elway said. “Once we get through the draft, we’ll see where we are, we’ll see where we are budget-wise. Obviously Chris has been a good football player for us for a long time. We’ll have to see where that goes. It’s something that we’d like to look at.”
Now at the end of March it appears that contract negotiations remain stagnant. Harris is set to earn a base salary of $7.8 million in 2019 before he will be an unrestricted free agent in 2020. If the defense is to drastically improve under Vic Fangio, Chris Harris Jr. must be paid and extended immediately.
The latest ex-Steeler to pile on the franchise is current Broncos wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders.
Last week, Sanders told 104.3 “The Fan” in Denver about how he left the Steelers.
“The Steelers offered me a crappy deal,” Sanders told the radio station. “They offered me three years, $9 million, $1 million guaranteed.
“I went into Kevin Colbert’s office and said, ‘I don’t want to take the deal.’ He looks at me and he goes, ‘Who do you think you are, Antonio Brown?’ I wanted to say, ‘F-you.’ I’ll never forget that.”
Sanders ended up signing a three-year, $15 million deal with the Broncos. He is just the latest ex-Steeler to kick the team while it is down because it has suddenly become chic to do so.
Brown always talked about how great of a relationship he had with his “Wifi” partner Ben Roethlisberger. Then he wanted to force himself out of town to get a new contract, and suddenly Roethlisberger “had an owner’s mentality” and was a bad teammate because he never invited Brown to his house.
On the NFL Network, James Jones’ mouth moved. But it was Morgan Burnett’s words that could be heard complaining as he tried to leverage himself out after one useless season in Black and Gold.
Le’Veon Bell was away from the team for more than a year and never made a peep about any problems he had with Roethlisberger or Tomlin until Brown squawked. Then, after signing with the Jets, Bell parroted some of Brown’s complaints in his puff-piece Sports Illustrated interview.
Josh Harris had five years to make his intentional fumble accusation against Roethlisberger, and he never did. Once ripping the Steelers on the way out the door became the “in” thing to do, suddenly we heard about this significant accusation.
Sanders is no different. First of all, if that incident went down the way Sanders describes, I’m stunned we never heard such a graphic description of events before now. How come? Did Sanders need to see others act in this manner before he felt comfortable doing something similar? Sanders has always been a pretty outspoken guy. Never afraid of a microphone. Where was this juicy nugget over the last five seasons since he left Pittsburgh?
Secondly, Sanders needs to get over Brown the same way Brown needs to get over Sanders. To this day, Brown has a hang up that he was drafted three rounds after Sanders was in 2010. And Sanders has always seemed to have a bee in his bonnet about Brown getting more money.
Listen, fellas, you’re both excellent players. The NFL is plenty big for both of you.
And lastly, if Colbert genuinely did say what he did to Sanders — in the exact tone Sanders is describing — is Colbert wrong?
No. He isn’t.
Sanders has always been an exceptional pass-catcher. And he can, at least, boast about owning one Super Bowl ring. But Brown is a Hall of Famer.
Sanders is a Pro Bowler. Antonio Brown is an All-Pro.
The Steelers kept the right guy, even if it ended dreadfully. That’s reality, even if Sanders doesn’t want to admit it. And no after-the-fact piling on is going to change that.
Tim Benz is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tim at [email protected] or via Twitter. All tweets could be reposted. All emails are subject to publication unless specified otherwise.
New Denver Broncos head coach Vic Fangio will have to wait a little longer to start working with running back Phillip Lindsay and cornerback Bryce Callahan.
According to Ryan O’Halloran of the Denver Post, neither player will be ready to participate in the Broncos’ voluntary workouts during NFL draft week in April. Because Fangio is a first-year head coach, Denver is granted an extra minicamp.
Callahan suffered a broken foot in December while playing for the Chicago Bears under Fangio, who was the defensive coordinator there from 2015 to 2018, while Lindsay is still recovering from a December wrist surgery.
Lindsay had a sensational breakout rookie season in Denver before injuring his wrist. After going undrafted out of the University of Colorado, Lindsay became the first Bronco rookie to rush for 1,000-plus yards since Clinton Portis in 2002. The 5’8″, 190-pound back would finish with 1,037 yards and nine touchdowns on a 5.4 yards-per-carry average—good for third in the AFC and a Pro Bowl selection.
Though everything worked out better than anyone could have expected, Lindsay was angry at his hometown Broncos for passing on his 10 times in the draft, Bleacher Report’s Dan Pompei reported in a long-form piece on Dec. 27:
“After the final pick, his phone blew up. The Broncos, Ravens, Colts, Falcons, Texans and Chargers wanted him.
Lindsay was at home with his parents, brothers and sisters. His agent, Mike McCartney of Priority Sports, was on the phone.
The Ravens and Broncos each offered $8,000 guaranteed and told him he had 15 minutes to decide. The Broncos had drafted two running backs—Royce Freeman in the third round and David Williams in the seventh. When they chose Williams, who had rushed for fewer yards in his entire college career than Lindsay had rushed for as a senior, Lindsay was triggered.
‘That’s f–king bullshit,’ he yelled after their pick. ‘F–k the Broncos! … I was not going to choose the Broncos,’ he says. ‘I was pissed at everybody. But mostly at them. I was like, ‘I ain’t never heard of David Williams.’ It was disrespectful. I was real close to choosing Baltimore.’
McCartney advocated he sign with the Broncos because he thought Lindsay would have his best opportunity there. McCartney asked the Broncos for more money. They increased their offer to $15,000 guaranteed.”
Williams is no longer on the Broncos roster, and Lindsay became first undrafted offensive rookie to ever be named to a Pro Bowl. Not to mention, Lindsay was granted permission by the franchise’s all-time leading rusher, Terrell Davis, to wear his legendary No. 30 jersey.
During Joe Flacco’s 11-year career in Baltimore, he put together his fair share of memorable performances. He made big plays and timely ones as he led the Ravens to 106 total wins over that span. And while it’s hard to single out exactly which games were his best, DenverBroncos.com asked three long-time Ravens beat writers to try their hand at ranking Flacco’s top moments.
Jeff Zrebiec of “The Athletic,” David Ginsburg of the Associated Press and Jamison Hensley of ESPN each present their top five below, and while they didn’t all agree on the order, the same games made each of their lists.
We hope to give you a different look at what Flacco has accomplished in his career — and to present an idea of what could come in the future.
“Joe has won over 100 games as a starting quarterback in the NFL and that includes the most road playoff wins in NFL history with seven,” John Elway said on March 15. “If we recall, there was one four or five years ago that was pretty painful here in Denver.
“Hopefully we’ll have a lot more of those miracles on our side rather than against us.”
Editor’s note: Some responses have been edited for clarity.
A Sunday night win in the Steel City (Nov. 6, 2011)
Average ranking from beat writers: 4.33
Ginsburg’s ranking: 3
Ginsburg’s take: “With the Ravens down 20-16, Flacco takes over at his own 8-yard line with 2:24 remaining and throws a game-winning, 26-yard TD to Torrey Smith with 8 seconds left to beat their AFC North rival on the road.”
Hensley’s ranking: 5
Hensley’s take: “He beat the Steelers on a last-minute drive. Flacco drove the Ravens 92 yards for the winning drive against Baltimore’s biggest rival. His 26-yard touchdown to Torrey Smith with eight seconds remaining won the game.”
Zrebiec’s ranking: 5
Zrebiec’s take: “Flacco didn’t have a great game statistically before a primetime television audience. However, he led a game-winning drive that ended with a 26-yard touchdown pass to Torrey Smith with just eight seconds to play. The drive silenced loud Heinz Field and enhanced Flacco’s ‘Joe Cool’ persona in crunch time.”
Taking down Tom (Jan. 20, 2013)
Average ranking from beat writers: 4.0
Ginsburg’s ranking: 4
Ginsburg’s take: “Pulls Ravens from a 30-21 fourth-quarter deficit, throwing a touchdown with 4:01 left before directing game-winning drive from his own 21-yard line to cap a 389-yard passing performance.”
Hensley’s ranking: 4
Hensley’s take: “Beat Pats in the AFC Championship Game. Flacco wanted the Ravens to be more aggressive, and they put the ball in his hands in the second half. He threw three touchdowns and outplayed Tom Brady in Foxborough.”
Zrebiec’s ranking: 4
Zrebiec’s take: “After challenging head coach John Harbaugh and offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell to open up the offense at halftime, Flacco threw three touchdown passes in a 10-minute span of the second half to lead the Ravens to a comeback victory over the Patriots and a berth in the Super Bowl. Flacco twice out-dueled Tom Brady and the Patriots on their home field in the postseason.”
Five for No. 5 (Oct. 12, 2014)
Average ranking from beat writers: 3.67
Ginsburg’s ranking: 5
Ginsburg’s take: “Guides Ravens to a 38-0 halftime lead and finishes with 5 TD passes, 306 yards, no INTs and a 149.7 QB rating.”
Hensley’s ranking: 3
Hensley’s take: “Won in Tampa Bay. Set a record for the fastest to throw five TDs in a game.”
Zrebiec’s ranking: 3
Zrebiec’s take: “Flacco threw a career-high five touchdown passes and they all came in the first 16 minutes, three seconds of the game. Flacco threw four first-quarter touchdowns passes – two to Torrey Smith, one to Kamar Aiken and one to Michael Campanaro – and he threw his fifth to Steve Smith Sr. just over a minute in the second quarter.”
Breaking the Broncos’ hearts (Jan. 12, 2013)
Average ranking from beat writers: 1.67
Ginsburg’s ranking: 1
Ginsburg’s take: “Threw for 331 yards and three TDs with no INTs, including the biggest pass play in Ravens history, the bomb to Jacoby Jones in the final minute of regulation to tie a game that was seemingly lost. The Ravens won in double OT, 38-35.”
Hensley’s ranking: 2
Hensley’s take: “Beat the Broncos in the AFC Divisional playoffs. Threw three TDs of 29 yards or longer, including his most famous pass — the Mile High Miracle.”
Zrebiec’s ranking: 2
Zrebiec’s take: “In frigid conditions and against a really good Broncos team, Flacco didn’t make any mistakes, tossing three touchdown passes, including his 70-yard heave to Jacoby Jones that tied the game late in regulation.”
Capping an incredible run (Feb. 3, 2013)
Average ranking from beat writers: 1.33
Ginsburg’s ranking: 2
Ginsburg’s take: “His most notable performance earned him Super Bowl MVP honors for going 22 for 33 for 287 yards and 3 TDs with no INTs.”
Hensley’s ranking: 1
Hensley’s take: “Threw for three touchdowns in a Super Bowl MVP performance. It capped one of the greatest postseason runs for a QB in NFL history.”
Zrebiec’s ranking: 1
Zrebiec’s take: “Flacco claimed Super Bowl MVP honors and wrapped up one of the best postseasons for a quarterback in NFL history by completing 22 of 33 passes for 287 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. His performance was exemplified by his decision to audible out of a run call from the Ravens’ 45-yard line with just over seven minutes to play and the Ravens clinging to a slim lead. Flacco hit Anquan Boldin for 15 yards and ultimately set up a field goal that proved to be the team’s winning points.”
EXCLUSIVE: OBB Pictures and Denver Broncos all-pro linebacker Von Miller are teaming on a half-hour animated comedy project titled Mars Martians, about the NFL’s first expansion team on Mars. Miller will voice the lead role and serve as an executive producer on the potential series, which is being written by Maxwell Theodore Vivian (The Cool Kids).
Mars Martians will follow Byron Bittman (Miller), the son of a beloved NFL superstar who has spent his life suffering under the expectation created by his father’s legacy and the beginning of his career plagued by disappointing production, fights with teammates, and embarrassing off-the-field issues. Now, having been relocated to Mars as part of the NFL’s latest expansion, Byron must adapt to a dysfunctional team, a washed-up coach with anger-management issues, and a front office led by team owner/governor of Mars Elon Musk (or a robot clone of Elon Musk) as they try to find a path to success and happiness.
OBB’s president and CEO Michael D. Ratner, Scott Ratner and Eric D. Cohen will executive produce alongside Vivian and Miller. OBB’s Kfir Goldberg and Elias Tanner led development and will produce. It’s the latest sports-themed project for OBB, which also produces the interview show Cold as Balls with Kevin Hart and previously was behind the go90 mockumentary series The Fifth Quarter.
The producer also has the Netflix series Historical Roasts starring Jeff Ross due out later this year and is in development on a limited series about the life of priest-turned-ecstasy kingpin Michael Clegg.
“I’m excited to partner with OBB and Michael on this project,” said Miller, who also stars in Studio 58, a Facebook Watch series that offers an all-access, comedic look into the life of an NFL superstar. “OBB is known for their great work, and working with a writer like Maxwell Vivian I think we have built a team that will create something that’s really exciting.”
Said Michael D. Ratner: “OBB got our start with projects that help athlete’s share a different, more human side than we’re used to seeing as fans. That’s not exactly necessary with Von. He’s a larger-than-life personality exploding with creativity and we wanted to help harness that for the insanely fun world of this series. Paired with an incredible writer like Maxwell, we’ve put together a hilarious and wildly unique project.”
Miller is repped by UTA, Ziffren Brittenham and Vanguard Sports. Vivian, currently a staff writer on Fox’s comedy The Cool Kids and whose credits include It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, is repped by Gersh and 3 Arts Entertainment. Michael D. Ratner and OBB Pictures are repped by UTA, 3 Arts and Hansen Jacobson.