DENVER -- The juxtaposition remains striking. A year ago, Shelby Harris entered the market and left with disappointment, forced to agree to a one-year, make-good $3-million deal.
A year later, everything was different. Following another productive season despite a knee injury and a COVID-19 absence, Harris agreed in principle on a three-year, $27 million deal with the Broncos with $15 million guaranteed.
The Broncos announced the deal on Twitter Monday afternoon following a tweet by Harris' agent.
"I guess he made something of himself," Harris tweeted.
New Broncos general manager George Paton said two weeks ago that Harris was a priority in free agency, a fact that pleased the veteran when told by Denver7. Paton followed suit, keeping the late bloomer in the fold with a new deal.
"Shelby sets the tone on our defensive line," Paton told the team website. "As a disruptive pass rusher and physical run defender, he's hard to handle up front. We're excited to have Shelby back with the Broncos."
The defensive end brings energy, attitude, swagger and production.
"Love it!" outside linebacker Bradley Chubb texted to Denver7.
Added Justin Simmons on Twitter, "MORE than made something of himself. Love brotha! You more than deserve this."
Harris started 11 games last season, delivering 32 tackles and 2.5 sacks. He also posted seven passes defensed -- he is the master of batting down throws -- tied for most in the NFL with J.J. Watt.
Harris turns 30 in August, but he has plenty of tread on his tires as a late bloomer. Harris oined the Broncos in 2017, and has grown into a bigger role each season. In 2019, he had a career-high 6.5 sacks. Last year, he was on a similar pace, but missed four games due to contract tracing and a bout with COVID-19.
"Congrats big dawg!!" tweeted Broncos outside linebacker Jeremiah Attaochu.
Added Broncos running back Melvin Gordon, "Haha, let me hold a couple dollars big dawg !!!! Congrats my boy !!!"
Teammates wanted to see Harris rewarded, same with Justin Simmons, who the Broncos are determined to secure on a longterm contract. Harris, one of the league's most underrated players, has been a regular working out at the facility and made it clear that his preference was to stay in Denver.
Monday, the sides found common ground, returning the veteran to the fold.
"He earned it. A fun guy to be around. Proud to have him on the team with me," Broncos guard Dalton Risner told Denver7. "I have always looked up to his passion in games."