The Denver Broncos plan to franchise tag free agent safety Justin Simmons if the two sides can not come to an agreement on a new contract.

General Manager John Elway spoke with the media at the 2020 NFL Scouting combine Tuesday and confirmed Denver’s plans regarding Simmons.

The 24-year-old safety spoke about his future on SiriusXM NFL Radio Monday and said he is optimistic about reaching a long-term deal with the Broncos, although he is prepared to receive the franchise tag.

“We expect to get franchise tagged,” Simmons said. “We’re kind of sitting on the optimistic side of things, just because in the past when the Broncos have used the tag and Elway’s used it, they’ve always worked out a long-term deal.”

While the end goal is to receive a long term contract, Simmons will not be discouraged if he gets the franchise tag and has faith in the Broncos’ front office to get a deal done eventually.

“Even though we feel like obviously we deserve to be paid in a long-term contract, and that is still an opportunity to be doing so if we are under the franchise tag, just another opportunity to present itself to kind of cement that we’re always confident in what we can do and things of that nature,” Simmons said. “We’ll see how it all plays out. If we do get franchised, there’s still the opportunity of working out a long-term deal, which has been done in the past with Elway and the Broncos, but we’ll just have to sit back and wait and see.”

Simmons had the best season of his career in 2019, starting all 16 games for the Broncos for the second consecutive season.

He led the team with four interceptions and 16 passes defended last season, and his 93 tackles were second to only Todd Davis.

At 26 years old, Simmons is entering the prime of his career and has developed into an elite defender in the NFL. has Simmons as the 7th best free agent on the market, and he is sure to be a valuable commodity should he reach the open market.

That said, the expectation is that Simmons will be a Bronco for the 2020 season and likely beyond.

“We’re pretty confident that we’ll be able to work something out,” Simmons said.

On Tuesday, John Elway echoed those sentiments from the NFL Combine. “If we don’t get something done, we’ll use the tag,” Elway explained.

The NFL free agency period begins on March 18.