Unsigned Broncos FA about to be the steal of 2024 after Antoine Winfield deal

Unsigned Broncos free agent Justin Simmons is about to be a steal...
Denver Broncos
Denver Broncos / Michael Owens/GettyImages

Although the meat of NFL free agency is over, record-setting contracts are still being signed this offseason. The latest big-money deal was signed by Tampa Bay Buccaneers safety Antoine Winfield Jr., who has become the highest-paid defensive back in NFL history. The crazy thing? That status probably won't last too long, and will undoubtedly be passed by Denver Broncos cornerback Pat Surtain II at some point.

Not bad for a couple of NFL legacies, eh?

For the time being, Winfield's deal worth over $21 million in average annual value stands as the benchmark for defensive backs around the NFL. What does that mean for Denver Broncos free agent Justin Simmons?

Well, in short, it means Simmons is about to be one of the biggest steals of the 2024 offseason.

The Broncos once signed Simmons to a record-setting deal worth $61 million over four years. At the time, that reset the safety market in the NFL at $15.2 million per year. The times have changed rather quickly, haven't they?

The Broncos saved $14 million by letting Simmons go this offseason, and into the middle of the month of May, he shockingly remains a free agent.

Justin Simmons vs. Antoine Winfield Jr. 2022-23 comparison

Antoine Winfield Jr. stats (30 games)

  • 202 total tackles
  • 4 INT
  • 7 fumbles forced (6 last season)
  • 4 fumbles recovered
  • 10.0 sacks

Justin Simmons stats (27 games)

  • 139 total tackles
  • 9 INT
  • 5 fumbles forced
  • 2 fumble recovered
  • 1 sack

Winfield is a younger player than Simmons (by four-plus years) and is obviously still ascending. He's also deployed in different ways than Simmons including being used as a pass rusher and in the box much more frequently. With that being said, Simmons' combination of 14 turnover-inducing plays (9 INT, 5 FF) is staggering on a per-game basis. He's basically forcing a turnover every other game played the last two seasons at that rate.

Winfield's production is also extremely impressive, but in a one year vacuum, we're talking about the difference of paying a guy a record-setting contract among all defensive backs to likely getting Justin Simmons for $10 million or less this coming year.

That's wild to think about.

Teams should be lining up for Simmons. The Broncos should be working to mend the fence to try and bring him back if at all possible.

One way or another, it looks like Simmons is going to end up being a bargain signing for some team with all of the money being thrown around at other players.