Jets are in on Free Agent Chris Harris Jr.

Sep 17, 2017; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos cornerback Chris Harris Jr. (25) during the first quarter against the Dallas Cowboys at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The Broncos used their franchise tag on safety Justin Simmons on Friday and it became clear that Chris Harris Jr. won’t be coming back. That means he’ll become a free agent for the first time after spending nine years as in Denver.

The 2019 campaign wasn’t among the best he’ll remember. He posted an allowed passer rating of 112.3, a steady increase compared to 2018’s 86.4. However, it marked just the second time in five seasons he’s missed the Pro Bowl. He enters free agency as one of the highest-profile cornerbacks, arguably the most-desired alongside Byron Jones.

With the Jets losing Brian Poole to free agency, they’ll likely take to the market to fill in that need. General manager Joe Douglas will focus on the offensive line in the first place, with Jack Conklin his first target. However, for a Jets secondary that was fairly inconsistent last year and now suffers a departure at cornerback, that position isn’t less significant.

The Jets are seemingly reluctant to use the franchise tag on either Brian Poole or Robby Anderson. Anderson is probably headed to a long-term deal with the team but the cornerback position will be the toughest to figure out. But still, Joe Douglas cannot afford for the secondary to hold back the third-best defensive unit against the rush. Especially if they’re getting a new pass-rusher.

Expectations are that Harris will get $12 million-$15 million in his next deal. The Jets have about $52 million in cap space. This is easily more than enough to bring Robby Anderson back on a wealthy deal and still spend big on the offensive line and defensive assets.

The Jets’ free agency period is certainly going to determine their direction in the upcoming Draft. However, they surely need to avoid leaving it to the draft for cornerback and pass-rush supplies. The team doesn’t need a pass-rusher so desperately. The secondary focus needs to be on the passing defense. Chris Harris is one of the best options since Bradley Roby is off the table.

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