Broncos make brutal, shocking move to cut Justin Simmons

What is the state of the Broncos after the Justin Simmons release?

Denver Broncos
Denver Broncos / Justin Edmonds/GettyImages
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The Denver Broncos have already moved on from quarterback Russell Wilson this offseason. It was expected that the team was at a crossroads with star safety Justin Simmons as well, but very few in Broncos Country expected the team to flat-out cut Simmons to save cap space. Traded? Maybe. You would have had to prove you were getting a sweet deal and that Justin Simmons was going to a great spot.

But cut?

The decision by Broncos GM George Paton and head coach Sean Payton to cut Justin Simmons is going to be the toughest pill to swallow all offseason. Simmons has been the Broncos' best player over this horrendous stretch of play, consistently setting the example of what it looks like to be a Bronco both on and off the field.

There will not be a more heart-breaking move the Broncos make all offseason.

As far as the why behind this move, the Broncos were obviously at a crossroads with Justin Simmons this offseason. Simmons was set to account over $18 million on the team's salary cap with a totally non-guaranteed salary of $14.5 million. Now, the Broncos will add that $14.5 million in salary cap space as they seek to become salary cap compliant.

Looking at OverTheCap's figures, releasing Simmons gets the Broncos within $2 million of breaking even on the salary cap. There are obviously ripple effects of having a big-money quarterback on the books financially, and this is one of them. The Buffalo Bills are experiencing something similar, but at least they can sleep at night knowing Josh Allen is on the roster.

The Broncos don't have the same luxury. Broncos Country didn't have much to hang their hats on these last 7-8 years since Super Bowl 50, but Justin Simmons was one of them. If there's one thing Broncos fans could agree on, it's Justin Simmons' greatness, not only as a player but more importantly as a person.

Simmons has more interceptions -- 30 -- than any other player in the league since he was drafted in 2016. He's been a turnover machine. He's been a team captain. He's been a Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee for the organization. A staple in the Denver community.

Now, Simmons will be taking his ball-hawking skills elsewhere, and as frustrating as this move is from the fan's perspective, this was a "do right by the player" situation for the Broncos. The Broncos saw an overloaded safety market, one that would leave them with no trade market considering Simmons' salary, the fact that he has one year left on his deal, and his age (will be 31 this season). The fact that the Broncos released Simmons shouldn't be as surprising as it is considering how deep this crop of free agent safeties is.

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Now, Simmons will have a one-week head start over many other free agent safeties and teams won't have to factor him into the compensatory formula, either. Is it brutal that the Broncos weren't able to get a draft pick in return for him? Absolutely. But this was the best course of action for the player.

5 next Broncos players to be cut post-Russell Wilson (and Justin Simmons). 5 next Broncos players to be cut post-Russell Wilson (and Justin Simmons). dark. Next