Chris Harris played for just one team over the first nine years of his NFL career. But he’d learned from five different defensive coordinators, each of whom won Super Bowls as assistant coaches.
The Chargers, in their quest to win their first world title, snagged one of the best cornerbacks on the market, a Super Bowl winner himself, because of the different dimensions he can bring to their defense. Harris said his role in Los Angeles will include helping DC Gus Bradley expand his repertoire and, perhaps, earn his first ring.
“They want to win and they’re saying the time is now, and they’re acting urgent,” Harris opined to NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport on the latest episode of the RapSheet and Friends podcast. “And that’s what I want. I want an organization who wants to win and who’s showing it, and that’s what they’re doing. They just want me to come in here and be a leader, come out here and make plays and be able to just elevate this defense, and really just add more versatility.”
His new home won’t be totally unfamiliar. Harris remains in the AFC West, where he’ll face the Broncos twice a year. He asserted that wasn’t a motivation. But he did prioritize playing with his original NFL position coach, Ron Milus, who was in Denver for Harris’ first two seasons. That, and a two-year, $17 million offer, catapulted the Chargers above a pair of NFC contenders he was deciding between at the start of free agency.
“They kind of came out of nowhere at the end,” Harris said of the Chargers‘ pursuit. “It was kind of winding down to the Saints or the Eagles and then they popped up out of nowhere, and I thought that would be an even better fit for me.”
It’s been an offseason full of adjustments for Harris. The four-time Pro Bowler’s first foray with unrestricted free agency involved a new agent. He knew he’d be playing for a new team once the Broncos traded for A.J. Bouye in early March. Harris said the Raiders showed interest but were also determined to keep Lamarcus Joyner at nickel. That crossed them off.
The Chargers came into the picture late but provided a “clear message.”
“I think a lot of the time, I don’t know if I was getting the right info from what my (former) agent was telling me,” Harris said. “When I got to talk to [John] Elway and them, it was different. It was just a lot of confusion. I felt, definitely, disrespected. But it was just mostly confusion. I just know that being a part of this new organization, they pretty much laid it out there what they expect from me and what they need from me, and that’s what I wanted. That’s all I really was asking for.”
While Harris knows where he stands in Los Angeles, the same can’t be said for quarterback Tyrod Taylor. Rapoport reported last week the Chargers won’t pursue a veteran via trade or free agency, likely leaving them to pursue one with the sixth overall pick in the draft. The 2020 QB situation is one Harris admitted he’s curious about.
“You definitely think about it, but I just think Tyrod, I got confidence in him, even though a lot or people don’t. I don’t think he’s ever gotten a real chance to be a starting quarterback with this many weapons. When he was with Buffalo, they didn’t have the weapons around him like they do here. I think he can definitely make some plays. He’s mobile, he’s smart. I don’t see why he can’t do the job.
“But if they want to bring in somebody else, I understand. Competition makes everybody better.”
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