Denver Broncos: No contract for Justin Simmons would be a huge mistake
The Denver Broncos would be making a mistake not giving Justin Simmons a new deal.
The Denver Broncos should re-sign Justin Simmons before the July 15 deadline.
According to a variety of reports, they will not.
Let’s get this all straight.
Simmons wants to be a Bronco. The Broncos want Simmons to be around for a long time. John Elway has publicly stated that.
Simmons is a young player coming off of an All-Pro season and the Broncos have never let a player play on the franchise tag as long as John Elway has been around as GM.
Why would Simmons, of all people, be the first guy to have to play on the franchise tag for Denver?
He’s been the quintessential example of a star athlete on and off the field.
Simmons was a third-round pick by the Broncos in 2016. He earned snaps despite the Broncos’ vaunted No Fly Zone still being fully intact in his rookie season. He made plays on special teams, he made his way into the starting lineup, he became an All-Pro, and he’s become a leader in the locker room and a huge part of the Denver community.
What has Simmons not done at this point to prove himself worthy of a long-term contract?
Furthermore, the price is only going to go up for his services as the Broncos delay a long-term deal. The current market value for top safeties is between $13-15 million. Simmons has done enough that, if he became an unrestricted free agent today, he would re-set the market at $15 million per year or more.
That deal would get done today by some other team if the Broncos would release him to free agency.
So what gives?
From a business perspective, the Broncos might have a decent argument for not paying Simmons $15 million per season right now.
But it’s not good business to reward a player like Simmons — who has done everything right — by forcing him to play year-to-year on contracts, even if they’re fully guaranteed franchise tags.
Simmons has done everything right, and the message the Broncos are sending to other players in the locker room is that you can do everything right, and it doesn’t matter — business is business.
That’s not good business.
The Broncos have plenty of space under the salary cap this year if they need to take a hefty year one cap hit to sign Simmons to a long-term deal. They also have plenty of cap space down the line even with the thought that other key players will be coming up on expired contracts in a couple of years.
Not signing Simmons today also doesn’t mean his career is over in Denver after 2020, although with the team letting a player like Chris Harris Jr. go in 2020, nothing is off the table, is it?
It seems unbelievable that Simmons is a player the Broncos would play this level of hardball with, but here we are. The team hasn’t had a draft pick sign a lucrative contract extension from 2013-17 besides tight end Jeff Heuerman and fullback Andy Janovich, who was traded before playing a snap on his new deal.
Simmons is the Broncos’ best draft pick from 2013-17. He’s a cornerstone type of piece for the secondary and the defense in general. He’s a tremendous leader and example for other players on the team to follow.
Why is he not getting the contract extension he deserves? If Simmons ultimately leaves the Broncos in free agency in 2021, this game of hardball will probably go down as one of John Elway’s most shameful gaffes as Broncos GM.