Justin Simmons-to-Cowboys Floated by ESPN as Potential Deal Before Trade Deadline

Chad Jensen

The Denver Broncos chose not to sign Justin Simmons to a multi-year contract extension, opting instead to stick to the franchise tag the team had applied to the safety early this past spring. Earning $11.441 million on the franchise tag, Simmons definitely received a sizeable raise, nearly tripling what he earned over the duration of his four-year rookie contract. For one season. 

That's what playing at an All-Pro level in a contract year can do for a safety. Simmons entered negotiations with Denver this past offseason in hopes of becoming the highest-paid safety in the game. 

However, the Broncos wanted to see him duplicate his 2019 body of work before rolling out the long-term money. The early returns? So far, GM John Elway looks like he was wise to 'rent' Simmons for one more year instead of getting tied down to a mortgage. 

Simmons has floundered through the first quarter of the season. Outside of all the injuries the Broncos have suffered, Simmons' regression might be the biggest disappointment thus far.  

Although he's still earning top-10 safety grades from the likes of Pro Football Focus, anyone who's watched the Broncos' four games this year can observe that he's been far from the same high-impact player he was last year. With the trade deadline rapidly approaching, of all the options the Broncos have on-roster, Simmons currently makes the most sense if Elway were of a mind to make a deal. 

Bill Barnwell of ESPN can foresee the Broncos potentially trading Simmons away to the Dallas Cowboys before the November 3 deadline in exchange for a 2021 second-round pick, 2022 fourth-round pick. 

Broncos fans would likely want to hold out for a Jamal Adams-sized package in return for their star safety, but that's just not realistic. Adams was two years away from free agency, while Simmons is already on his first franchise tag. The Broncos weren't able to come to terms on a contract extension before the season with the Boston College product, and with Simmons set to make $13.7 million on a second franchise tag against a $175 million cap next year, things aren't going to get any easier.

If Denver loses its next two games and falls out of the playoff race at 1-5, it will have to face facts. There's no sense in having Simmons play the second half of a lost season before letting him leave in free agency. Locking in a second-round pick gets the Broncos a better pick than a third-round compensatory selection, has that pick arrive a year early and allows general manager John Elway to spend in free agency without negating that would-be compensatory pick.

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It might pain some fans to hear it but Barnwell's logic is not flawed. If the Broncos aren't able to at least split these next two games, beating either the New England Patriots this week, or the Kansas City Chiefs in Denver next, if a team like the Cowboys were willing to give up a second-rounder next year, plus a mid-round pick, knowing the financial obstacles that could await this team in 2021, it would be a deal too good to pass up. 

Now, if Simmons were balling out, it'd be a different story. It's typically not advisable to deal away elite players in the midst of their prime. 

Simmons hinted in 2019 that he could have elite potential but through the first quarter of this season, he's playing at a replacement level. If the right team came calling, offering up a second-round pick in exchange for Simmons, that's a deal Elway should take all day long and twice on Sunday. 

I wouldn't expect a deal to happen. Although, Elway has been active in years past at the trade deadline. In 2018, Elway dealt away all-time wideout Demaryius Thomas and Pro Bowler Emmanuel Sanders in 2019. 

The way Simmons is playing, I have a hard time seeing any team being willing to offer up a second-round pick for him, even one who could use the help at safety like the Cowboys. We're talking about a one-year wonder after all. 

The Broncos invested a third-round pick in Simmons back in 2016, so getting him for five years only to deal him away for a second-rounder? That'd be quite the coup to celebrate for Elway the GM. 

It would likely take head coach Vic Fangio being fully on-board, though, even if the right offer came Denver's way. I'd be curious to know exactly how Fangio feels about his 11.4 million-dollar safety who's playing at replacement level. 

My guess is — since we're talking strictly in hypotheticals — Fangio would take that offer, too. At the rate Simmons is playing, the Broncos would be remiss to rebuff such an offer if it ever became a reality. 

Which it won't. It's fun to speculate, though, ain't it? 

UPDATE: According to CowboysSI.com's Mike Fisher, a bonafide Dallas insider citing a source, the Broncos have not been in contact about the possibility of trading Simmons. 

Follow Chad on Twitter @ChadNJensen and @MileHighHuddle.

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Comments (15)
No. 1-7

That only that, but Simmons is the guy who said, after the Kansas City fans booed the players kneeling during the national anthem at the first game of the season, that "the fans don't get it," and the players will keep kneeling until we do. Well, he doesn't get that fans watch for entertainment and to escape from things like politics.


Throw in Miller and the team can build for the future


Like CHJ, Simmons should have taken the offer...frankly it was fair. All those who berated Elway for not caving would be saying what now if we had signed him? Simmons crap play has cost him millions now - just like CHJ...and, like CHJ, cost us two games. Let's hope he steps up in the next two weeks and make game changing plays - for our side this time. His Agent is also jinxed as well...sloppy tackling and missed assignments get's no sympathy here - we can get that from a rookie...he stays average, Elway should just deal him off...I'm done with guys wanting the moon but can't get it done.

Thomas Hall
Thomas Hall

Simmons value is low right now. Moving him would be tough and the Broncos would likely have to take less than they want, meaning it would be unlikely to happen.

1 Reply

Steve Atwater 27
Steve Atwater 27

Thats just plain dumb. Simmons is still easily a top 5 safety. WHY would we move him? Especially with jackson coming up too? Silly Tom.


Honestly? I would have to consider it.

Frankly, the Broncos have to decide who they're going to build around and who they have the cash flow to sign to a suitable extension. The 2021 draft is shaping up to have a pretty good class of safeties, and while versatile safeties are important in Fangio's scheme, they can't pay Kareem Jackson and Justin Simmons. Simmons has not had the best season, and there's been a lot of miscommunications on the back end, so will probably struggle to get the top safety deal with so many other star safeties looking for their deal at or before the end of the season. That being said, he's arguably Elway's best draft pick considering the round he was picked in and his performance as a Bronco and would deserve signing to a long term deal.

A team like Baltimore or Dallas would make a ton of sense if the Broncos decide that paying Simmons isn't something that they can do. There are other ways of freeing up cash, but that extra capital would be incredibly useful.

Steve Atwater 27
Steve Atwater 27

Which team is ESPN the General Manager for again? Oh yeah...none. What a buttertarted idea, and article. Not your best work, Todd. Slow news day?


Look, you can't say JS is having an off season without saying the entire NFL oh yeah, and Country! are having an off year. Were playing, were not, wait maybe. Were all being Yo yode day in and out. It shows out in all of us. JS is worth his weight, on a building team.