In his 4th season out of Boston College, Justin Simmons has dramatically surpassed his 3rd round draft selection (No. 98 overall) expectations. Mike Klis recently reported that Simmons has played in 1443 consecutive snaps since starting in 2018, which is the longest current streak among defensive players in the NFL.
Under Broncos Head Coach Vic Fangio and Defensive Coordinator Ed Donatell, Simmons has logged 53 tackles, 2 interceptions, and 9 pass deflections. Simmons has gained a reputation for his preparation, and attention to detail. He demonstrates fundamental tackling, and puts himself in positions to contest the ball.
He is set to become an unrestricted free agent in 2020 concluding his rookie contract.
While there have been rumors that the Broncos have interest in retaining Simmons, there haven’t been any reported contract extension negotiations. But just because an extension has not been offered or accepted, doesn’t mean that John Elway underestimates the importance of a franchise safety.
Elway won two championships as a player with Bronco Ring of Famer and Pro Bowl safety Steve Atwater. He also attempted to emulate Seattle’s “Legion of Boom,” by acquiring Pro Bowl safety TJ Ward, leading to a 3rd Lombardi trophy for the Broncos in Super Bowl 50.
Last Sunday against the Browns, Simmons recorded 8 tackles, while containing star wide receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry to just 1 touchdown combined. Late in the game, Simmons was also asked to blitz on a critical third down, tackling running back Nick Chubb in the backfield as the Broncos defense stood pat.
After the game, Fangio was asked about Simmons’ blitz and said, “That was a critical time, short yards, that’s a call we have up every week. It’s the first time we’ve called it this year. I just felt that was the time to do it and I did it.”
If Simmons hits the free agent market, there is a projected feeding frenzy for the safety position. With teams willing to set the market each year, there is a possibility Simmons doesn’t return to Denver.
Yesterday, during his weekly press conference, Fangio said, “I do like Justin. I think he’s a really good player and I see a bright future for him in a Broncos uniform.”
With the Broncos heading into a BYE week, now would be the perfect time for John Elway to reward Justin Simmons.
Is Justin Simmons a franchise-level NFL safety?
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Maybe, but not yet.