Star safeties don’t come around every day, which is exactly why the Denver Broncos are looking to lock down Justin Simmons now.
Simmons, who was an AP Second-Team All-Pro last year, was recently given the franchise tag by the Broncos, which would pay him $14.5 million this season. However, Denver used the tag only to secure him for the short-term as they work on a longer-term deal now, after the wild ride of free agency.
“As far as Justin, we’re in negotiations right now,” Broncos general manager John Elway said on Monday in a pre-Draft press conference. “We’ve given them an offer. They gave us an offer back. We’re in active negotiations with Justin.”
When the Broncos announced, most knew Simmons would be in the Mile High City for many years to come. Part of that is because Elway and the team have always used the franchise tag as a route to a longer-term deal for stars. Since Elway entered the front office in 2011, Denver has re-signed the players — Matt Prater, Ryan Clady, Von Miller and Brandon McManus — to a long deal immediately after.
That’s definitely good news for the Broncos as well as Simmons, who will become one of the highest-paid at his position in all likelihood.
After being drafted in the third round back in 2016, Simmons took his limited opportunities to turn in a season with two interceptions, four passes defended and a sack in only three starts. That forced coaches to wake up and see he’s a star in the making; Simmons has been the full-time starter at free safety since.
In all of his four seasons, Simmons has at least two picks as he’s considered one of the best pass-defending safeties in the NFL. Last year was his absolute finest performance, though; Simmons defended 15 passes and picked off four, each were career-highs.
And, according to Pro Football Focus, he was the best safety in the NFL last year, with a 90.8 overall grade. His 91.1 grade against the pass was the fourth-best among safeties and his 32.1 passer rating allowed was second to only Earl Thomas III last season.
There’s no questioning that Simmons is a star blossoming before our eyes, and it’s likely he’s in Denver for at least the next four years. As details about his new deal come available — once it happens — we’ll bring you those here. Until then, make sure to check out our wide-ranging draft coverage.