The Denver Broncos are in a good position as we enter the month leading up to the free agency period.
Denver’s looking at 27 free agents from their own team, and Denver will have around $80 million to fill those holes, either by keeping their own guys or finding new players from around the league. Plus, the Broncos are loaded with 12 draft picks coming in April, and finally, some moves are starting to come into focus.
Justin Simmons, the young superstar safety, is the team’s No. 1 priority. However, he’s so valuable, the team is willing to put the franchise tag on him if necessary. If they can avoid the tag, Simmons will likely make around $14 million per year.
And just like Simmons’ value was set when Eddie Jackson signed to the Bears on a 4-year, $58.4 million deal, the same can be said for his safety mate Will Parks.
Parks and Simmons came into the NFL together, during the 2016 draft, meaning they are at the end of their rookie deals at the same time. And while Parks has been a valuable backup and special teams player, he’s not the star Simmons has become.
Today, the Baltimore Ravens signed safety Chuck Clark to a 3-year, $15.3 million deal per Adam Schefter, and many are expecting Parks’ new deal to come in at around the same price point.
In 12 starts, Clark enjoyed 68 combined tackles, nine passes defensed, one interception, two forced fumbles and one sack. Those numbers are slightly better than Parks’ 2019 season: 7 starts, 31 total tackles, 1 INT, 2 PD, 1 sack.
So, if another team comes out and offers Parks around $5 million per season, it seems unlikely the Broncos will counter with a deal near that mark. One reason: Denver is set to pay their starting safeties (Simmons and Kareem Jackson) around $30 million next year. Paying Parks an additional $5 million to be a backup makes little sense, financially.
Plus, at the end of the season, backup safety Trey Marshall shined in his two starts, with 16 tackles and a forced fumble in those final two games. The Broncos seem much more likely to re-sign Marshall for the league minimum than spend another $5 million.
If Denver does lose Parks, it could mean a 6th round compensatory pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, as first stated by Nick Korte.
One thing is for sure, the Broncos will look a lot different in 2020 than they did in 2019. And, that should be exciting for fans who saw Denver finally start to come together down the stretch of the 2019 season.