Broncos keep Harris in Denver, bolster secondary with Darby


ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — The Denver Broncos have addressed their biggest defensive need by agreeing to terms with former Washington cornerback Ronald Darby on a three-year deal that can be signed on Wednesday.

The three-year, $30 million agreement with the seventh-year cornerback followed an accord with defensive end Shelby Harris to stay in Denver.

Darby is cashing in after excelling on a one-year, $4 million contract with Washington last season. He started all 16 regular season games and Washington’s playoff loss. He collected 55 tackles and broke up 16 passes.

Both deals can become official when the league’s business year begins Wednesday.

A second-round pick by Buffalo in 2015, Darby spent 2017-19 in Philadelphia, where he was a part-time starter on the Eagles’ Super Bowl 52 championship team.

Darby joins Bryce Callahan and Michael Ojemudia in the Broncos’ backfield. Earlier this offseason, the Broncos jettisoned veteran cornerback A.J. Bouye after one unproductive seas in Denver.

Earlier Monday, new general manager George Paton scored his first victory as John Elway’s hand-picked successor when Harris agreed to a three-year, $27 million deal to stay in Denver.

Harris’ agent, Ryan Williams, announced that the seventh-year veteran was remaining with the Broncos on Twitter and the club confirmed the agreement.

Harris played on a one-year deal last year after finding no suitors in free agency despite setting personal highs with 49 tackles, six sacks and nine passes defensed in 2019.

He refused to lament his bad luck, however, saying he felt fortunate to have a job during the pandemic.

Even though he missed a month with COVID-19 last season, Harris had another solid season in coach Vic Fangio’s 3-4 defense, deflecting seven passes, tied with J.J. Watt for most by a defensive lineman in 2020.

Last week Paton said re-signing Harris, the Broncos’ top unrestricted free agent, was among the first items on his to-do list and he mentioned his close relationship with Harris’ agent.

“Ryan Williams is a great agent. I am close with Ryan and have spoken with him about Shelby,” Paton said. “Shelby is a priority in free agency. We’d love to have Shelby back. He’s a really good football player and a good person. I know Vic’s spoken with him. I’ve spoken with him early. He’s a guy we definitely want back.”

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