Justin Simmons To Play Season On Tag

After going 4-for-4 in extensions for franchise-tagged players during his GM tenure, John Elway will not finalize an agreement with the Broncos’ most recent tag recipient. This was the expectation. The sides are not believed to have been close on terms since they exchanged offers in April.

The Broncos and Justin Simmons amicably agreed to disagree Wednesday, per Mike Klis of 9News (on Twitter). Simmons will play the season on his $11.4MM tag price, joining Vikings safety Anthony Harris in that regard.

Denver had previously extended Matt Prater, Ryan Clady, Demaryius Thomas and Von Miller. While the team had not used the tag since Miller’s 2016 deadline-day deal, Elway identified Simmons as the team’s top in-house priority this offseason. Simmons has signed his tender and is on track to be at training camp for the Broncos.

Simmons, who graded as Pro Football Focus’ No. 2 overall safety last season (behind Harris), emerged as the top player to come out of the Broncos’ 2016 draft class. Last season, the former third-round pick led all safeties with 15 passes defensed and intercepted a career-high four passes. The Broncos will now have two $11MM-per-year safeties, with Kareem Jackson entering the second season of his three-year, $33MM pact. Simmons stands to cost more. It is believed he wants to be paid north of $14MM per year. That is the new going rate for top safeties.

Minutes away from the tag deadline, only Chris Jones has finalized a deal. Derrick Henry and the Titans are on the doorstep, however. That will send the other 12 franchise-tagged players into the season on one-year deals.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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2 comments on “Justin Simmons To Play Season On Tag

  1. halofanatic

    For the love of God, I hope they get something done. Would hate to see such a young talented player get away from the Broncos. Hypothetically though, if he did leave, where would he go? Any ideas?

    • Ak185

      There are a lot of openings around the league at safety, especially one who can line up in any defensive front. Three interesting places to me are Philly, Dallas, and NYJ. Dallas has not officially made overtures to any safety, but for the three years or so have been connected through whispers to several high profile safeties, like Earl Thomas and Jamal Adams. I do not recall Stephen or Jerry ever officially denying it. They signed George Iloka a few years ago to shore up their positional need, didn’t use him much, and just this past offseason lost Jeff Heath. I believe they have a desire for a safety, but did not want to give up too much in the past. Simmons’ youth and versatility would convince them I think, plus the lack of any need to give up draft picks, ala Adams.

      The Eagles signed Simmons’ ex teammate Will Parks, and obviously lost Malcolm Jenkins this past offseason. They’ve also been trying free agent safeties for the last few years, and have been shifting their corners (like Maddox and Mills) back and forth in the secondary to try and cover the position. They signed McLeod, of course, but I’m not sure how long term that is, and he plays more in the box from what I’ve seen in their scheme. Simmons would help them by playing over the top, which is what they’ve tried to do with their corners.

      The Jets, of course, have to decide what they’ll do with Adams before anything happens here, but I believe Adam Gase was in Denver when Simmons was drafted, or was the year before. Either way, I doubt it’s much of a connection due to Gases’s role on the team, but if interested, there may be mutual connections for him to call-if he’s not fired first. As far as playing goes, Simmons last year moved all over the field, which can help the Jets decide what to do with Marcus Maye as well. They’ve hinted at getting rid of him a few times, and having a versatile safety can make a transition easier, particularly if they end up moving on from both safeties. As I said, it’s sort of a mystery to me where they stand on Maye and Adams, but I get the feeling that Simmons might have a chance to end up there.

      Other places? There are a few, but Seattle has been having competitions every year it seems at safety. Carolina has a need, but is rebuilding entirely. Atlanta has a need. Cincinnati is trying to build into contention now to capitalize on Burrow’s rookie deal, and Minnesota has Anthony Harris on a one year deal. Simmons will have a LOT of options, I think, if he plays well again this year.

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