Browns Linked to 3-Time All-Pro CB Amid Concerns in Secondary

Chris Harris, Broncos

Getty Chris Harris Jr. of the Denver Broncos walks on the field before a game against the Oakland Raiders. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)

The Cleveland Browns have proven resilient after a couple of shaky late-game efforts by their secondary, but adding reinforcements to the defensive backfield is a strategy that continues to make sense.

Cleveland allowed a 75-yard, fourth-quarter touchdown against the Panthers in Week 1 and needed a bomb off the foot of kicker Cade York to pull out a victory in the game’s final seconds. The following week, the Browns surrendered a 13-point lead to the New York Jets with fewer than two minutes to play in one of the more disappointing defeats in recent memory — part of which involved blown coverage on a 66-yard deep strike that cut the lead to six.

Things appeared more secure in the secondary during the Browns’ Thursday night win over the Pittsburgh Steelers, but comfort equals complacency in the NFL, and complacency in that league is near universal folly.

The circumstances in Cleveland argue for the Browns spending some of their nearly $36 million in salary cap space on adding a veteran cornerback with a track record of excellence to the roster. One such player remains available in Chris Harris Jr, most recently of the Los Angeles Chargers.

Harris Offers Browns Safety Net Against Best AFC Offenses

Chris Harris, Chargers

GettyCornerback Chris Harris Jr. of the Los Angeles Chargers reacts after an interception against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium on December 5, 2021 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)

A free agent throughout the first three weeks of the regular season, the 33-year-old Harris would be a valuable addition for a handful of contenders, including the Browns.

David Kenyon of Bleacher Report on Sunday, September 25, made an argument for Cleveland’s recruitment of Harris.

In the mid-2010s, few cornerbacks in the NFL demanded more respect than Chris Harris Jr. as a member of the Denver Broncos. … The 33-year-old Harris put together a solid year for the Los Angeles Chargers in 2021, allowing a respectable 7.4 yards per target.

As for potential teams, basically any playoff contender with a shaky secondary should be interested in Harris. …  The question remains whether a unit is prepared to defend the Buffalo Bills‘ offense. Sure, that’s a high-end concern, but if the answer is anything close to no, you should probably be talking to Harris.

Harris would solidify a defensive backfield that includes two-time Pro Bowler Denzel Ward and second-year talent Greg Newsome II as the starting cornerbacks.

Harris Produced Borderline Hall of Fame Career For Broncos, Chargers

Packers Travis Fulgham

GettyWide receiver Travis Fulgham of the Detroit Lions is covered by cornerback Chris Harris Jr. of the Denver Broncos during a game at Empower Field at Mile High on December 22, 2019 in Denver, Colorado.

Though likely past his prime, Harris is still a formidable defender, especially considering that prime may arguably land the cornerback in NFL Hall of Fame.

Harris has been named to four Pro Bowl teams throughout the course of his 11-year career, appearing in that game most recently in 2018. The cornerback has also earned All-Pro honors on three occasions, including a first-team selection in 2016, and he was named a member of the 2010s All-Decade Team.

Harris has appeared in 162 games, including 141 starts, over his time with the Broncos and the Chargers. He has amassed a total of 592 tackles, including 24 tackles for loss, 94 passes defensed, 22 interceptions, 12 quarterback hits, 6 forced fumbles, 5.0 sacks and 4 defensive touchdowns over the course of his career.

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