It took two franchise tags, but the Denver Broncos finally got a multi-year deal done with safety Justin Simmons.
NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Friday the Broncos and Simmons agreed to terms on a four-year, $61 million contract with $35 million guaranteed, per sources informed of the situation. Benjamin Allbright of KOA NewsRadio first reported the figures. The team later confirmed a new four-year pact.
"We're thrilled to reach a long-term agreement with Justin Simmons," Broncos general manager George Paton said in a statement. "He is the complete package as both an elite player for the Broncos and a leader in our community. As a free safety, Justin has every tool you need to be the best. He is a smart, instinctive playmaker who can cover a lot of ground with his athletic ability.
"Justin's a great fit for our defense, and with the speed of today's game -- especially in our division -- he is exactly what you need in a safety. We look forward to him helping us win and making a positive impact on the Broncos for a long time."
The long-term agreement has been years in the making. John Elway used the franchise tag on Simmons last year, hoping it would be a placeholder. Sides couldn't hammer out a deal before the July deadline, forcing the star safety to play on the one-year tender.
Paton once again franchise tagged Simmons this year to keep him off the open market.
This time around, a long-term solution came together quickly.
The deal makes Simmons the highest-paid safety in the NFL by a solid margin. The $15.25 million per year average leaps Budda Baker, who averages $14.75 million. The $35 million guaranteed sits only behind Washington's Landon Collins, but his $44.5 million guarantee came on a six-year deal.
Simmons is worth every penny. The long, athletic ball-hawk is a game-changing force. Perfect in coach Vic Fangio's system, Simmons can cover in space, recover with speed on the backend and dive down against the run. There are few, if any, holes in his game. The long, athletic ball-hawk is a game-changing force. Perfect in coach Vic Fangio's system, Simmons can cover in space, recover with speed on the backend and dive down against the run. There are few, if any, holes in his game.
Since 2018, Simmons is one of three players with 250-plus tackles and 10-plus INTs (Vikings' Harrison Smith and Titans' Kevin Byard). Simmons is the only player with 250 tackles and 12 INTs over that span, per NFL Research.
Not only is he a dynamic playmaker, but Simmons also doesn't miss plays. The 27-year-old has played every defensive snap since the start of 2018 (3,067), the longest active streak by any player, per Next Gen Stats (including playoffs).
Locking down Simmons has been a Broncos priority for years. Finally, that deal gets done, keeping a keystone of Fangio's defense in Denver for the long haul.