After failing to come to terms on a Broncos extension ahead of last summer’s deadline, Justin Simmons played the 2020 season on the franchise tag. He again profiles as the Broncos’ top free agent. Despite a new GM running the show in Denver now, the team’s handling of Simmons is not expected to change.
The Broncos are preparing to use their 2021 tag on the standout safety, according to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports. Teams have until March 9 to apply franchise tags, and the Broncos do not intend to let Simmons hit the market.
Since Simmons received an $11.4MM tag last year, his 2021 price would rise to $13.7MM. There are five safeties averaging at least $14MM on their respective long-term contracts, establishing a clear floor for Simmons. The Broncos already have plenty invested at safety, with Kareem Jackson entering the final year of an $11MM-AAV pact, but Simmons is squarely in his prime at 27. He is also coming off his first Pro Bowl season — during which he intercepted a career-high five passes and played every defensive snap for a third straight year. Jackson will be 33 next season.
The sides did not come especially close on an extension before the 2020 summer deadline. The Broncos offered a deal that would have made Simmons a top-six highest-paid safety, but his subsequent performance should drive up his asking price this year. A Simmons tag will eat into Denver’s cap-space figure considerably. The Broncos sit seventh in cap space presently, being projected to hold just more than $30MM.
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