There is growing buzz that the Denver Broncos will use the franchise tag again on safety Justin Simmons, but it appears it will be utilized to give the team more time to get a new contract done to keep him for the long term.
Of course, people will remember that the Broncos didn't get a long-term deal done the last time they used the tag. It was the first time a player tagged during John Elway's tenure as general manager didn't come to terms on a long-term deal.
However, just because the two sides didn't reach an agreement last year, doesn't mean they won't reach one this year. It's possible new GM George Paton will figure other ways to get closer to what Simmons and his agent may want in a deal.
It's important to note that the franchise tag will be higher for Simmons this time around because it will be based on the 2020 number. I've estimated the tag for him to be about $13.7 million in 2021.
The tag will come into play regarding the final particulars of a new deal for Simmons, but what might that new deal look like?
For that, I utilized Over the Cap's contract constructor, which allows you to get a visual of how a contract would be structured. The contract constructor allows one to create a sample contract for a player, then share the link with others.
You can see the contract I created for Simmons here.
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You will notice that the contract averages out to $14.8M per year, which would make Simmons the highest-paid safety in the NFL. Although it wouldn't be a large re-set of the market, I constructed the five-year deal so that Simmons would also top the market in full and total guarantees.
In summary, Simmons would get $74M over five years, a $12M signing bonus, and a $6M base salary in the first year, for a grand total of $18M in 2021. He also gets a $14M fully-guaranteed base salary in 2022, and a $14M base salary in 2023 that is injury-only guaranteed, which vests to full guarantees if he's on the roster to start the 2023 league year.
In this hypothetical deal, Simmons' first-year cap number is at $8.4M, which keeps his cap figure low for the first year. The larger years kick in when the Broncos will see some veteran contracts expire, and thus be in better position to accommodate those larger cap hits.
In the final two years of the contract, it's easy to get out of the deal if Simmons' play declines and you need cap space. However, I gave him some protection by adding $2M roster bonuses in each of the final two years. That money would be due on the fifth day of the league year, meaning the Broncos must pay him that money if they have him on the roster at that point.
By adding that into the contract, if the Broncos do cut Simmons, they have to do so early in free agency, which would allow him the best opportunity to find a deal elsewhere. For those who would like to see Simmons get to $15M per year, that isn't difficult to accommodate — it just requires adding $1M to the total, which can be done by either adding a $200,000 workout bonus in each year of the contract, or adjusting base salaries.
You can even go higher than $15M per year through additional adjustments. For example, you can add $2M to each of the final two base salaries, which does increase the cap number by $2M each year.
The best part about the OTC contract constructor is you can visit the page at which my contract proposal exists, then adjust the numbers as you see fit. When you do, you will see the effect it has on cap numbers each year.
I invite you to click the link and adjust the contract as you see fit. You can then generate your own page and PDF file to share, if you want. I hope you enjoy the chance to do so and get a better idea about how a contract may be structured.
Follow Bob on Twitter @BobMorrisSports.
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