The days of the Denver Broncos having the best safety duo in the league are gone.

At least, free safety Justin Simmons will have to find a new strong safety counterpart, as the Broncos will not exercise the option on Kareem Jackson per Mike Klis.

Jackson’s been a beast for the Broncos in his two years with Denver. He’s been a hard-hitting throwback of a safety, enjoying multiple massive plays.

And this year, Jackson was graded as the sixth-best safety in the NFL per Pro Football Focus (80.4), two spots ahead of the younger Simmons (77.4). After two years with the Broncos, the team had an option to bring him back for a third, which would have paid him $10 million and acted as a $12.8M cap hit. Cutting the 33-year old safety saves Denver that $10M but they will have to incur a $2.8M dead cap hit still.

The move isn’t that surprising considering Jackson’s high price tag and the fact that Denver used a second straight franchise tag on Simmons this offseason as they look to get a long-term deal done with him. The orange and blue spent north of $21 million on the safety position alone in 2020 and that number had to come down some.

Denver was able to bring back Will Parks last year and he may be the man Paton turns to next to Simmons. Parks is solid, but not spectacular, although he does have time to grow at 26 years old. Parks made $1.5M last year and if Denver can retain him for around $2 million per season, they likely will.

One of the games with the Broncos Jackson will be remembered for came in Houston against his former team in 2019. He lit up DeAndre Hopkins multiple times and asked Jeremiah Attaochu to pitch him the ball on a fumble, which Jackson returned 70 yards to the house. Another memorable play in Denver for the safety was his huge hit on Austin Ekeler at the goal line to force the Chargers’ running back to fumble before scoring as time ran out at halftime.

But, the Broncos are looking to go younger and spend that money elsewhere.

On Monday, they re-signed Shelby Harris to a 3-year, $27 million deal and then signed free agent cornerback Ronald Darby to 3-year deal of his owns worth $30 million. In effect, they traded out Darby’s deal for Jackson’s.

Harris has been a phenomenal defensive tackle in Denver the last three years and the Broncos are lucky to have him back. He’s got a high football IQ and knows if he’s unable to get to the quarterback, when and how to bat the ball down at the line. Keeping him around kept Denver from a catastrophe on the line says our Zach Segars.

Darby is a 27-year old cornerback who bounced back from a disastrous 2019 season for one of his best in 2020, enjoying a league-leading 15 passes defensed last year. Darby will be the new No. 1 cornerback this year after A.J. Bouye was let go. Denver may still look to sign another CB, too.