Broncos place franchise tag on safety Justin Simmons, removing him from 2020 free agent pool

The Denver Broncos are placing the franchise tag on starting safety Justin Simmons. The projected franchise tag salary for the safety position is roughly $12.7 million, according to President of football operations and general manager John Elway acknowledged that the team is still hoping to reach a long-term agreement with Simmons.

“We remain focused on reaching a long-term contract agreement with Justin, and he’s a big priority for us. This is a placeholder in that process and our goal is the same — to make sure that Justin is a Bronco for a long time,” Elway said in a press release.

Simmons expressed to the Denver Post in December that he hoped to return as well.

“If I could choose, I would stay. If the contracts were the same (from) all 32 teams, I’d stay in Denver. It’s a no-brainer. But it just has to work out on both ends of the spectrum,” Simmons said.

Simmons, 26, recorded 93 tackles, four interceptions, and 15 pass deflections last season. He was named a second team All-Pro after playing every defensive snap for the second consecutive season. The Broncos added him with a third-round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. 

In December, CBS Sports’ Joel Corry included the young defensive back among his players likely to receive either the franchise or transition tag.

Simmons picked the right time to play his best football, his contract year. The 2016 third round pick is thriving in first year head coach Vic Fangio’s defense. Broncos strong safety Kareem Jackson, who is 31, signed a three-year contract averaging $11 million per year with $23 million fully guaranteed in free agency this year. Simmons, who recently turned 26, will surely be looking to better those marks in a long term deal.   

Simmons is the latest in a spur of franchise tag decisions. The Ravens placed the franchise tag on edge rusher Matt Judon and the Chargers placed the franchise tag on tight end Hunter Henry.

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