As the franchise tag deadline came and went without the Denver Broncos reaching an agreement on a long-term extension with Justin Simmons, Broncos Country understandably panicked.
Simmons is a ‘face of the franchise’ type player on defense, and should only get better with more time in Vic Fangio’s system. Denver can’t let him walk out the door.
Though, Broncos fans have no need to worry, according to NFL.com’s Gregg Rosenthal in his latest article ranking players by the likelihood of them staying put.
Rosenthal has Simmons as the franchise-tagged player with the second-best chance of staying with his team long term, behind only Dak Prescott.
“Simmons is ranked so high because Broncos general manager John Elway has publicly said the tag is a “placeholder” for Simmons,” Rosenthal wrote. “Unlike some of the teams listed below, the Broncos held good faith negotiations with their tag recipient this month, according to NFL Network’s James Palmer.”
Rosenthal is right, the Broncos did seem to get much closer in their long-term contract negotiations with Simmons than most teams did with their stars under the franchise tag. According to 9News’ Mike Klis, the Broncos offered Simmons a contract that would make him one of the league’s five or six highest-paid safeties, but Simmons opted to bet on himself and hope to land an even bigger payday in 2021 instead.
Rosenthal thinks Simmons was smart to bet on himself.
“Simmons fits coach Vic Fangio’s defense like a glove,” Rosenthal wrote. “In a Broncos secondary with plenty of question marks, he emerged as one of the best safeties in football. His versatility allows Fangio to get more creative up front, and Elway would be crazy to break up the duo.”