A bit of good news has arrived for the Denver Broncos, albeit with an asterisk. The team opted to place the franchise tag on safety Justin Simmons this offseason to buy themselves time to work out a longterm deal, but that time is rapidly nearing an end as the extension deadline of July 15 approaches. And with less than a week to go before the NFL slams the door shut on negotiations, Simmons has reportedly decided to guarantee his presence both at the start of training camp and in the regular season.
The 26-year-old is expected to sign the aforementioned franchise tag, per Adam Schefter of ESPN, at some point before Monday, July 13. This promises him a base salary of $11.44 million this coming season, and ensures the Broncos take the field with in tow.
Simmons undoubtedly began the calendar year hoping things would have gone differently this offseason, after seeing the Chicago Bears award Eddie Jackson a four-year extension worth $14.6 million, making him the highest-paid safety in the league on a per-year basis. That was in early January though, and before the COVID-19 pandemic forced an economic collapse and forced a shutdown of sports leagues around the world. In the new financial landscape dominated by the novel coronavirus, NFL teams have been reticent when it comes to awarding players large contracts, at least for the most part.
Patrick Mahomes' historic contract notwithstanding, several players who began the spring on a franchise tag have yet to land an extension with only days left to the July 15 deadline -- .
It's clear the Broncos are all-in on keeping Simmons, a former third-round pick who has made a name for himself coming off an All-Pro season in 2019, and the two sides still have until the deadline to work something out for the long haul. In the event they can't, Simmons will have to play out a one-year deal in 2020, with the hopes of potentially raising his value and subsequently his asking price next offseason. The problem there, however, is he could again have to tango with COVID-19 fallout that might lessen salary caps across the board in 2021.
This is why both he and the Broncos would rather get a deal done now, but time waits for no one.