Justin Simmons will remain in Denver for at least the 2021 season. For a second straight year, the Broncos have franchise tagged their Pro Bowl free safety but will continue to work toward a long-term contract. A second tag will cost Denver approximately $13.73 million. Simmons made $11.44 million under the tag last season. The Broncos have until 4 p.m. on July 15 to sign Simmons to a longterm deal.
The 27-year-old Simmons was the 98th overall pick in the 2016 draft. Over the past five years, he has blossomed into a top-tier defensive back. A starter since the 2017 season, Simmons was selected to his first Pro Bowl in 2020 after recording a career-high five interceptions. In 74 regular-season games, Simmons has 16 interceptions, 37 passes defensed, 385 tackles and 11 tackles for loss.
"Designating Justin with the franchise tag is a procedural move that allows us to continue working on a long-term deal," Broncos general manager George Paton said in a statement Friday. "We are completely focused on making sure Justin remains a big part of the Denver Broncos for many years to come."
Simmons recently expressed his desire to remain with the Broncos during an appearance on SiriusXM NFL Radio. He was recently tabbed by CBS Sports senior writer Pete Prisco as the NFL's eighth-best pending free agent.
"From everything that I've heard and that I've been a part of for five years now, it seems like Denver wants me back and I want to be there," Simmons said, via Pro Football Talk. "At the end of the day, it is a business. It's just a matter of it working out on both sides."
Simmons' market value is currently estimated at five years at $15.4 million per season, according to Spotrac. While the Broncos do not currently have much cap space, they have several options as it relates to cutting salary. One of those options would be adjusting the contract of Von Miller, who currently carries a $22.2 million cap hit. The Broncos are currently in the middle of contract talks with Miller, who is currently under a criminal investigation.