While the Denver Broncos and Justin Simmons attempt to hash out a long-term contract agreement, the organization is prepared to utilize the ace in its pocket with the Pro Bowl safety.
NFL Network's James Palmer reported Tuesday that Denver expects to place the franchise tag on Simmons for a second consecutive offseason. Palmer did allow, however, that negotiations between the sides are ongoing and "much closer" than this time last year.
"That looks like the direction this thing is heading," Palmer said of the tag.
Simmons played the 2020 campaign on his $11.4 million franchise tag — grading out as the league's third-best safety and garnering his first-career all-star nomination — following unsuccessful, months-long discussions with the Broncos, whose top offer to the 27-year-old registered around $13 million annually.
The exclusive franchise tender at his position is projected to be worth roughly $13.72 million for 2021 — fully guaranteed. There are rumblings that Simmons wants to become the NFL's highest-paid safety, surpassing Arizona's Budda Baker, who's earning $14.750 million per season. There are subsequent rumblings that Denver, under new management, is reticent to meet his demands.
"This is one of the big things on the plate of new general manager George Paton,” NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported Monday. “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. The goal of the organization is to avoid that and just lock him in now.”
The window to apply the franchise tag opened Tuesday and will close March 9. If tendered, the Broncos and Simmons would then have until July 15 to work out a multi-year extension or opt to play the season on the tag.
Denver currently owns $39.789 million in available cap room, per Spotrac.com, which also projected Simmons to land a five-year, $77.430 million contract — $15.4 million annually — if he were to reach the open market.
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