3 worst contracts on the Broncos' payroll following release of Justin Simmons

The Broncos have made the incredibly difficult decision to move on from safety Justin Simmons. But as the team looks to create more room to spend money, there could be more tough decisions coming.

Dec 19, 2021; Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Broncos wide receiver Tim Patrick (81) celebrates his TD catch.
Dec 19, 2021; Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Broncos wide receiver Tim Patrick (81) celebrates his TD catch. / Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
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The Broncos still have some moves to make in order to have money to spend on the free-agent market, which opens with the beginning of the new league year on Wednesday. However, on Monday, teams can begin the "legal tampering" period and start negotiating with other teams.

The Broncos don't want to be left out in the cold and need to make some moves to get this roster rebuilt. Unfortunately, largely due to the incredibly bad contract that was given to Russell Wilson, the team is having to cut players who can still play at a high level but are just too costly right now.

That was the case with Justin Simmons, who even at 30 years old, is still easily one of the best safeties in the NFL. But the move saved the Broncos $14.5 million against the salary cap, which makes it an understandable decision. The business side of the NFL is often not fun.

The Broncos will be looking at other moves to make and all of these contracts look pretty ugly right now.

Tim Patrick, Denver Broncos
Nov 7, 2021; Arlington, Texas, USA; Denver Broncos receiver Tim Patrick (81) celebrates his second touchdown of the game. / Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Tim Patrick, Wide Receiver

This is the worst contract on the books right now, mainly because injuries have completely derailed the last two seasons for Tim Patrick. As a result, he has not played in a game since January 2022.

Patrick is due $15.5 million in 2024 and that cap number is far too high for a player who hasn't played in over two years. It's really too bad, as there is no doubt that Patrick could have helped the team the past two seasons and his loss has been immense.

But the Broncos can't and almost certainly won't pay him that money this season. Releasing him would trigger a dead money hit of $6 million but it would save $9.5 million against the cap, and that is an important number as free agency draws near.

It would not be a popular decision to release Patrick, but it would be an understandable one. In fact, much more understandable than letting Simmons go, so it's a surprise that it hasn't already happened.

One popular idea would be for the Broncos to bring Patrick back later down the line at a significantly reduced rate. Since he likely won't have a big market for his services based on the fact that he hasn't played for two years and is coming off of two devastating injuries, the Broncos may be the only team that even offers him a contract.