By Jeff Kerr
(CBS SPORTS) – Justin Simmons was one of the many players placed on the franchise tag that couldn’t reach a long-term deal with his team, the Denver Broncos, before Wednesday’s deadline. While Simmons will make $11.441 million and is tied for the fifth-highest salary in football among safeties this year, 2020 is another contract year for one of the rising safeties in the game. That’s fine with Simmons, even though he has a questionable future with Denver.
“If the Broncos wanted to get a deal done, they would’ve,” Simmons said regarding a long-term deal on Good Morning Football Friday. “And so the reality is another year on the franchise tag is like a contract year all over again. Year 2 in Vic’s system with all the weapons that we have, I’m more than confident in myself and what I can do. Moving forward, we’ll just have to see. It’s a business decision on both ends. Whatever’s in my best interest and my family’s best interest is always what I’m going to do.”
Simmons finished with a career-high four interceptions and 15 passes defensed last year, establishing himself as one of the best cover safeties in the game. Opposing quarterbacks completed just 52.8% of their passes targeting Simmons, as the safety allowed just 5.4 yards per target and a 43.6 passer rating.
No surprise Simmons had his best season in his first year under Vic Fangio’s scheme. The Broncos finished 10th in points allowed and 12th in yards allowed while the pass defense was just 11th in pass yards allowed. Simmons’ presence on the defense helped the secondary allow just 19 touchdown passes in 2019 (fifth fewest in the league).
The Broncos defense is poised to be even better in 2020, which Simmons is banking on to help him get the long-term deal he covets.
“We’ve just got so many weapons around the board,” Simmons said. “And we’re talking about Year 2, guys feeling comfortable in the system. I can’t say enough good things about our defense. You talk about a motivated defense at that. Guys willing to prove themselves.
“I’m excited. The season can’t get here fast enough. We just need to get back to some football.”