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Broncos would need to use franchise tag on Justin Simmons if deal isn’t reached by deadline

The Denver Broncos have until March 9th to sign Justin Simmons to a long-term deal or they will need to use franchise tag to retain their star safety.

NFL: Las Vegas Raiders at Denver Broncos Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The franchise tag option opened up on Tuesday and with it the clock for the Denver Broncos to get safety Justin Simmons signed to a long-term deal has begun ticking. The deadline for the tag is March 9th, so that leaves the team with just a few weeks to work with.

Simmons played under the tag last season, but if he becomes one of just seven players in the last 13 seasons to get tagged in back-to-back seasons his salary for 2021 will rise to $13.73 million. Under John Elway, the Broncos had always used the franchise tag as a way to extend the negotiation timeframe signing four previous players to long-term deals before the following season. However, with COVID-19, things seemed to grind to a halt in the NFL last Spring and into Summer leaving Simmons to play the season under that tag.

“This is one of the big things on the plate of new general manager George Paton,” NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport said this week. “They’d like to get a new long-term deal done with Simmons. They’re going to try to do this before they have to tag him a second time. If they do tag him a second time it’ll be $13.75 million, but obviously the goal of the organization is to avoid that and just lock him in now.”

With George Paton taking charge in Dove Valley, he will be looking to lower the strain the team’s salary cap heading into free agency. He has already released cornerback A.J. Bouye earlier this month and will likely be taking a long look at defensive lineman Jurrell Casey as another potential cap casualty. However, an underrated salary cap consideration would be Simmons in a long-term deal. The first year of those deals tend to be cap-friendly, which is something this year in particular will need to consider.

It would be great for both sides to come to an agreement ahead of free agency for exactly that reason. It would help Paton to have a firm grasp of what salary cap he has to work with before the free agency window opens.

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