Franchise tagging Justin Simmons for a second-straight season might mean a long-term deal with the Broncos is imminent
The clock is officially ticking on Broncos safety Justin Simmons' future in Denver. The NFL's franchise tag window opened Tuesday and closes March 9. If the Broncos want to tag Simmons for a second consecutive season, keeping him on the roster, the team has two weeks to do so. If the Broncos tag Simmons again, he would be the eighth player to be tagged in two straight seasons since 2007. Of the seven who have been tagged twice, three re-signed with their respective teams — Terrell Suggs with the Ravens in 2009, Anthony Spencer with the Cowboys in 2014 and DeMarcus Lawrence with the Cowboys in 2019. Tagging Simmons again is simple would provide both parties more time to figure out a long-term deal — until July 15, to be exact. Simmons, 27, made a case to be signed to a long-term contract by not missing a snap the last three seasons and coming off back-to-back career seasons, in which he was named an AP second-team All-Pro in 2019 and a Pro Bowler in 2020. Last year he totaled 96 tackles, nine pass breakups and a career-high five interceptions. If the Broncos and Simmons reach a long-term deal, it would likely vault Simmons into the top five highest paid safeties in the league. That number would be somewhere around $14 million, which is the salary for Kansas City's Tyrann Mathieu and Washington's Landon Collins, tied as the fourth-highest paid safeties in the NFL. Playing on the tag last year, Simmons made $11.441 million. If he is tagged again this year, he'd make $13.729 million — a 20 percent increase, which will also be fully guaranteed and make him the fifth-highest paid safety. Simmons has made it clear in the past that he wants to get paid and stay in Denver, where he's spent the entirety of his career, becoming a fan-favorite on and off the field. Now, it's a waiting game for him and the Broncos. "I'd love to answer that in depth, it's just uncertain what the future holds — just being truthful with this next season," Simmons said Jan. 4. "I've always talked about wanting to be here. I hope it's mutual and all that stuff. We just have to — I don't know, see."