Justin Simmons’ incredible performance throughout the 2019 season will likely earn him a very lucrative contract and has already earned him a spot on Pro Football Focus’ Top 101 players of 2019.
Simmons is the highest-ranked Bronco on the list as the league’s 17th-best player. This tops Alexander Johnson’s ranking of 46th and Courtland Sutton’s “nice” ranking of 69th.
Simmons’ placement on this list shouldn’t surprise many. He dominated PFF’s safety rankings for much of the season and closed 2019 as PFF’s highest-graded safety in terms of tackling and overall play. He also found himself ranked in the top four in terms of coverage and run defense among safeties.
“Justin Simmons was one of the best performers of the entire 2019 NFL season for the Denver Broncos’ defense,” writes Sam Monson of PFF. “He was particularly impactful in coverage, where he had four interceptions and 11 pass breakups, the most combined forced incompletions of any safety this season. Simmons was also unusually active against the run for a player who excelled in coverage, and he recorded 28 defensive stops, the 11th-best mark at the position despite spending just a third of his snaps as a box safety close to the line of scrimmage.”
The dilemma for the Broncos now isn’t whether or not to pay the star safety, but instead, how much to pay him?
Last offseason saw the safety market reset with Kevin Byard, Tyrann Mathieu, and Landon Collins all agreeing to deals worth at least $14 million annually, but the safety market is primed to take another leap in 2020. Simmons, Vonn Bell, Anthony Harris and Jimmie Ward are all coming off strong seasons and all have expiring contracts.