Let me start out by admitting what many of you already know about me: I love good safety play. I think good safeties are the key to having a sound, modern NFL football defense. I think teams don’t value them enough and definitely don’t pay the good ones enough for how impactful they are on the field.
Let me follow that up by saying I think the world of Justin Simmons. It has been a joy to watch him enter the league and grow year after year through garbage coaching and poorly managed teams to turn into a serious all-pro quality safety. He’s a positive guy on and off the field and shows every sign of being a true professional athlete that deserves a big contract.
So safeties are awesome.
Justin Simmons is awesome.
Did the Broncos make a mistake in not getting an extension done?
The Broncos’ franchise tag history
Surprisingly, the Broncos have only used the franchise tag on 4 players previous to Justin Simmons: Matt Prater, Ryan Clady, Demaryius Thomas, and Von Miller.
In all other cases, the Broncos got a new contract signed with the players and didn’t have to have a player play out a season on the tag.
Part of it is just hard ball business, part of it is lack of real leverage for the players. But this year is different with Justin Simmons signing his tender and betting on himself.
So what makes this different?
The biggest thing that makes getting a deal done more difficult is the current unknowns about the finances in the NFL as far as the salary cap goes after this year. With the NFL looking at running a season without a lot of inflow of money from ticket sales and other profit sources centered around the fan experience, the salary cap is very likely to take a pretty significant nose dive after 2020.
Add to that having an agent in Todd France who is rumored to be big on chasing top dollar (he’s also Dak Prescott’s agent if you didn’t know), and you have a very clear situation of water and oil not mixing.
The Broncos under John Elway have always paid “good” contracts to their stars that they want to keep, but rarely do they do it at top dollar. Von Miller is the only exception that comes to mind. So when the rumors float around from Broncos mouthpieces in the media that Broncos offered top 5 money, I believe it. I also believe they weren’t going to budge off that position with the uncertainty of the salary cap next year.
So we have an agent and a player wanting (and arguably deserving) a top contract. We have a team who isn’t going to put a huge chunk of their future wrapped up in a top safety. Where that logically ends at in the NFL is the player is going to have to take a risk and play on his franchise tag.
What does this mean for the future?
Honestly, not a lot. I think it is wise for Simmons to bet on himself. It is a gamble of course, but he doesn’t have a history of injury. He doesn’t have character concerns or any other signs of inherent risk to his future.
He’s still making a good price for one year of play at $11.5M.
For next year, the Broncos will surely tag him again which they will be able to afford and hopefully have a clearer view of the future so they can better negotiate a contract with France.
I think Simmons can and should end up demanding a price setting contract and with some clever contract work, the Broncos should be able to make it happen (see Von’s contract as a great example). But it won’t happen until 2021.
And if Simmons and France truly are unreasonable, there’s always the trading block or a compensatory pick to look forward to as a GM.
Let’s hear your thoughts
I’m curious to hear Broncos Country’s thoughts on this. Hit up the poll and the comment section and tell me what you think of this situation. Bad? Good? Fair?
What do you think about Simmons playing out his Franchise Tag?
This poll is closed
Bad move...there’s too much risk for him as a player!
Great move...he’s betting on himself and he’s the real deal
I think it was a fair move by both sides. There’s too much unknown about next year.
Who’s Justin Simmons? I’m a AFC West rival and I eat my boogers