Why are the Denver Broncos not rushing to re-set the safety market?
The Denver Broncos seem to have a no-brainer of all no-brainer decisions on their hands:
Re-set the safety market and pay All-Pro, Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee Justin Simmons.
Predominantly Orange writer Steven Kriz looked at what a potential contract could look like for the Broncos and Simmons, one that would be fair for both sides, but it appears as though the Broncos are going to keep on playing hardball in negotiations.
That’s not new for John Elway. This instance is particularly surprising, however.
The Broncos haven’t talked to Simmons’ reps since April? Didn’t they hire a guy to run their salary cap this offseason who used to work with Simmons’ agency? I thought this was a no-brainer, done deal.
Everything we’ve been told throughout the offseason from both the Broncos and Simmons is that a long-term deal is the ultimate goal. I would have bet my bottom dollar that Simmons if any of the franchise-tagged players across the NFL, would have signed a long-term contract.
He’s been the model of what you would look for in a player to give a contract extension to. Coming in as a third-round pick, Simmons earned snaps on a legendary defense in 2016, a group that returned the vast majority of starters from a Super Bowl team the year prior.
He cut his teeth on special teams. He got involved in the community. He has consistently made big plays. He has improved. He was named second-team All-Pro in 2019. He was the Broncos’ nominee for the Walter Payton Man of the Year award, a prestigious recognition for players’ involvement in things off the field.
Simmons has gained some national recognition as one of the top three or four safeties in the NFL, so what’s the deal with the Broncos not giving him a new deal?
To the majority of fans, it doesn’t make sense.
Unfortunately, the business side of the NFL is pretty ugly. Teams have leverage over players and are by no means obligated to re-set the market every time one of their players out-performs his rookie contract.
On principle, the Broncos should absolutely be giving Simmons a new contract. On the business side? They may have a pretty compelling case for holding to whatever their offer has been.
To re-set the market at the safety position, the Broncos would have to pay Simmons around $15 million per season. They seem to be holding firm on paying him less than that, because if that offer was on the table, there’s little doubt a deal would already be done.
The Broncos’ leverage with Simmons is simple. In addition to being able to blame “economic uncertainty” with the 2020 season and fan attendance in question, the Broncos have the ability to tag Simmons a second time in 2021 for under $14 million.
A second franchise tag?
So, if the Broncos decided to franchise tag Simmons next year, his two-year average annual value would come in at $12.585 million.
From a business perspective, it makes sense then that the Broncos would be holding firm at a number under $15 million, but how much under? What’s a few million in the NFL, really?
Apparently, a lot more than we think.
It still doesn’t make sense to me why the Broncos would not reward Simmons with a deal on principle, but from the business side of things, you can see how they have plenty of leverage to pay Simmons under market value over the next two years unless he decides to hold out.
Meanwhile, Simmons can play on the franchise tag for a fully guaranteed $25.17 million over the next two seasons if the Broncos decide to go that route, a substantial increase in his previous salaries as a third-round draft choice.