Shelby Harris was expected to cash in big as a free agent. He had a nice season as a starting defensive lineman for the Denver Broncos last season and is still in his prime.
Everyone was surprised when Harris got just a one-year deal for a little more than $3 million. He was expected to get a lot more. A big market for the 28-year-old lineman never developed.
In other years, maybe Harris would have been more upset that he settled for less than he hoped. But with everyone dealing with the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, Harris expressed a thought you won’t hear from athletes too often.
He’s just happy to have a job.
Shelby Harris: ‘We should just be blessed to ... be employed’
Few will feel sorry for an athlete making $3 million in a year at any time, and especially not this year with unemployment skyrocketing.
Harris’s answer to why he got just a one-year deal struck the right tone in a tough time.
“At the end of the day, I’m just happy to have a job,” Harris said, according to the team’s transcript. “There are millions of Americans who have lost their jobs because of this. I’d rather just focus on the fact that I have a job than — if you want to talk about numbers at the end of the day we should just be happy, we should just be blessed to be able to be employed and to have a job.”
Harris has a handle on the big picture.
Harris emerged for Broncos in 2019
It wouldn’t be outrageous for Harris to be upset with his contract.
Harris was a seventh-round pick by the Oakland Raiders in 2014 and was a typical end-of-the roster player for a few years. He spent parts of 2014, 2015 and 2016 on practice squads with the Raiders and Dallas Cowboys. He appeared in just eight games for three seasons before finding a home in Denver. He became a full-time starter for the first time last year and posted six sacks.
It was Harris’ time to cash in. Then it didn’t happen, and there’s no guarantee he’ll ever get that big long-term deal.
But he isn’t complaining. He talked about enjoying extra time with his family, cooking dinner every night, and “being a dad, honestly.” He isn’t going to complain about a $3 million salary this year.
“It’s bigger than that right now,” Harris said. “I think the important thing is that I do have a job. I’m able to provide for my family, but there are a lot of people who can’t. I’m not about to go out there and — I can’t get mad about how things happen with other people when there are so many people in the world and in America right now who can’t even say they have a job because they lost it because of the coronavirus. I’m just happy that I’m able to say that I have a job.”
More from Yahoo Sports: