Broncos could lure a top free agent with Justin Simmons’ help
At this point in time, Denver Broncos safety Justin Simmons is not under contract for the 2021 season. He is slated for free agency and new Broncos GM George Paton has already spoken publicly about his desire to retain “good, young players”.
Whether by long-term extension or a second franchise tag, Simmons will almost assuredly be back with the Denver Broncos in 2021. Hopefully, the Broncos are able to secure him on a long-term deal, because if Simmons is happy he might be able to help in the team’s other free agency pursuits in the 2021 offseason.
NFL free agents are almost all, first and foremost, motivated by the amount of money they can make. There are other factors and some care about winning more than others while some players care more about coaching and scheme fit or connections.
Among the other factors players consider in free agency, one factor that cannot be overstated or overlooked is a free agent’s connections to other players on a roster.
Simmons is arguably the most prominent leader on the Denver Broncos right now, and certainly, if he’s locked in with a long-term contract, he could be one of their most influential recruiters on the free agent trail.
Having him under contract is essential, but if he’s back in Denver for the long-term, he might be able to help the Broncos fill some big needs in free agency.
One of the top areas for the Broncos to address in the 2021 offseason is at the linebacker position. Alexander Johnson is a restricted free agent who will almost certainly be getting a second-round tender from the Broncos. Josey Jewell — the other incumbent starter at inside linebacker — is under contract for one more season.
The Broncos have fairly high hopes for 2020 draft pick Justin Strnad (a fifth-round pick) who suffered a wrist injury in training camp, but are they likely to pass on possible upgrades because of him? Probably not.
The free agent linebacker class is solid and the 2021 NFL Draft crop looks quite good. The Broncos undoubtedly need to upgrade their coverage ability at the linebacker position which could lead them to Buffalo Bills free agent Matt Milano.
Milano was a fifth-round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft and has blossomed into a tremendous three-down player in the NFL. He is apparently set to test free agency in a month when the new league year begins.
What does Justin Simmons have to do with Matt Milano?
I’m so glad you asked.
Milano and Simmons played college football together at Boston College. Though they were taken one year apart in the NFL Draft, Simmons and Milano starred together for the Eagles in 2015 but were together in the BC defense from 2013-15 before Simmons went to the NFL in 2016.
Coming out of high school, Milano was a safety prospect and a good one at that. He made the transition to the linebacker position in college because the BC secondary was loaded, including fellow 2021 free agents Simmons and another safety in John Johnson.
The Broncos’ struggles to find linebackers with coverage abilities are well-documented at this point. Milano is the type of player who can alleviate those concerns and play an every-down role in the defense.
Denver Broncos free agent options if Von Miller is not back
If the Denver Broncos part ways with franchise cornerstone Von Miller, how would they potentially soften the blow in free agency?
Perhaps if the Broncos can keep Simmons happy with a contract of his own, he will go to bat for the Broncos and help them recruit a free agent who could fill a huge need on the defense.