Denver Broncos: Top 15 acquisitions of the decade

Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images) /
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Justin Simmons
DENVER, CO – OCTOBER 1: Strong safety Justin Simmons #31 of the Denver Broncos points to the stands as he walks off the field after a 16-10 win over the Oakland Raiders at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on October 1, 2017 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images) /

Drafted Justin Simmons in 2016

By: Sayre Bedinger

When the Denver Broncos lost tight end Julius Thomas to the Jacksonville Jaguars after the 2014 season to a five-year, $46 million contract, it was hard to see the ‘good’ of letting him go at the time.

Thomas had been one of the most dynamic receiving tight ends in the NFL over the previous two seasons, catching 24 touchdown passes from Peyton Manning from 2013-14.

One year after Thomas signed in Jacksonville, the Broncos were awarded a third-round compensatory draft selection in the 2016 NFL Draft, the 98th overall pick. That pick was used on Boston College safety Justin Simmons.

Simmons, over his first four years in the NFL, has been not only a tremendous player for the Broncos but one of the top leaders on the team and an example setter off the field in the community.

In 2019, Simmons was a second-team All-Pro and Walter Payton Man of the Year finalist. He will now either be given a massive long-term contract by the Broncos or franchise tagged, and should be a staple of this defense for years to come.

Although certainly it would have been great to see Julius Thomas finish out his career in Denver, you just never know what can happen with the domino effect of things in free agency and the NFL Draft.

Thomas is currently out of the league retired while Simmons is 26 and blossoming into one of the league’s bright young stars at his position.