The Broncos will apply the franchise tag to Simmons on Friday, Benjamin Allbright of KOA Colorado reports. Simmons, who was set to become an unrestricted free agent, will receive the franchise tag after another impressive season in 2020 that included 96 tackles (77 solo) and nine pass breakups, Simmons finds himself in unique territory for his position, becoming the first safety since Donovan Darius (2003-2005) to be tagged in consecutive seasons. Broncos general manager George Paton confirmed Friday the team intends to work out a multi-year contract with the star defender, per Zac Stevens of TheDNVR.com. "Designating (Simmons) with the franchise tag is a procedural move that allows us to continue working on a long-term deal," said Paton.
The Broncos intend to reach a long-term contract with Simmons before exploring the possibility of franchise tagging him for a second consecutive year, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports. With the franchise tag window opening Tuesday and extending through March 9, new Broncos GM George Paton is faced with one of his first critical decisions. Simmons, who earned the first Pro-Bowl nod of his career while playing on the tag in 2019, is a homegrown player who has developed into one of the premier safety talents in the league. He's set to become an unrestricted free agent, but both sides have expressed interest in reaching an extension. The 27-year-old has composed three consecutive 90-plus tackle seasons, while his nine interceptions since the start of 2019 rank second to only Tyrann Mathieu among safeties. Matt Prater, Ryan Clady, Demaryius Thomas and Von Miller (ankle) all landed long-term extensions with the organization after receiving the franchise tag during John Elway's GM tenure. Paton will be directing personnel decisions this offseason, however.
Simmons finished the 2020 season with 96 tackles, three tackles for loss, five interceptions, nine passes defensed and a fumble recovery. Playing on the franchise tag, it's hard to imagine Simmons's season going any better for him. The Boston College product was one off his career high in tackles and set a career mark in interceptions with five, including the game-sealer in Week 11 versus Miami. All the while, he covered up the mistakes of a very young, injured cornerback corps. Simmons doubtlessly benefits from head coach Vic Fangio's zone-heavy scheme, but he's earned the right to be one of the league's highest-paid safeties no matter where he plays in 2021.
Simmons finished with eight tackles (five solo) and a tackle for loss in Sunday's 22-16 loss to Kansas City. Simmons finished second on the team in tackles behind fellow safety Kareem Jackson (10). He has 76 tackles with four games to play, putting Simmons on track to top 90 for a third consecutive season.
Simmons recorded seven tackles, two passes defensed and an interception during Sunday's 20-13 win over Miami. Following a Melvin Gordon fumble, the Dolphins were driving to tie up the game in the closing moments of the fourth quarter when Simmons stepped in front of a Ryan Fitzpatrick pass to the end zone -- sealing the game. It was Simmons' third pick in his past four games and made up for an interception that he had earlier in the game that was called back on a teammate's holding call. Simmons ranks third in the league with four interceptions on the season and will be a test for Taysom Hill, making his second start Sunday.