Denver Broncos cornerback Chris Harris will be in high demand as free agency starts, and the Broncos already have locked in his presumed replacement.
The Broncos agreed to a significant trade Tuesday, which would send a 2020 fourth-round pick to the Jacksonville Jaguars for cornerback A.J. Bouye, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Bouye has been a top-end cornerback and a Pro Bowler in 2017. The trade can’t be official until the league year starts on March 18.
Harris’ agent reportedly met with other teams at the NFL scouting combine last week. With the interest in Harris climbing, the Broncos apparently are going in another direction.
Broncos could move on from Chris Harris
Harris and the Broncos couldn’t come to terms on a long-term extension last year, but settled on a raise for 2019. That gave Harris, a four-time Pro Bowl cornerback, the ability to hit free agency this year.
While the Broncos could theoretically still bring back Harris as well, Bouye has a $13 million base salary due in 2020 and 2021. With safety Justin Simmons in line for a big payday too (he will likely get the franchise tag if a deal isn’t reached soon), the Broncos probably can’t afford to add another high salary to the secondary. And Harris will command a lot on the open market.
Bouye, who signed a five-year, $67.5 million contract with the Jaguars before the 2017 season, is not coming off a good year. In Pro Football Focus’ grades, Bouye was tied for 58th among cornerbacks with at least 600 snaps. But he is just 28 years old and a decent rebound gamble at the price of a mid-round pick.
Jaguars still losing talent
Meanwhile, the Jaguars continue to retool a roster that not too long ago was on the verge of beating the New England Patriots in the AFC championship game, only to blow a fourth-quarter lead.
Jalen Ramsey was traded last year. Bouye will be gone on March 18. Pass rusher Yannick Ngakoue is in a franchise-tag standoff. Leonard Fournette is still there, and apparently feels lonely.
The Jaguars do get more cap flexibility and another draft pick from trading Bouye, which helps as they try to rebuild again. The Broncos also have a reasonable replacement for Harris, assuming he leaves in free agency. It’s a trade that seems to make sense for both sides.
More from Yahoo Sports: