The Broncos are applying the franchise tag again to star safety Justin Simmons according to Benjamin Albright.
Breaking: Per league source Broncos all pro safety Justin Simmons will be getting the franchise tag today.— Benjamin Allbright (@AllbrightNFL) March 5, 2021
Because Simmons was tagged last season his franchise tag number will not be based on the salary cap this year but instead will receive a 120% raise over last season’s salary. This will bring Simmons tag value to $13.729 million for 2021. It is doubtful that the Broncos used the exclusive tag as the cost of that tag would be $15.2 million and likely would go down if the team waited longer.
Simmons is still free to sign with any team in the NFL but given that nobody signed him last year to an offer sheet it would be safe to say that he will exclusively be negotiating with the Broncos. It would cost a team two first round draft picks if they signed Simmons to an offer sheet and it was not matched by Denver. This tag, as discussed in our free agency guide, was a given this year if no long term deal was reached. The cost is too cheap and the player too valuable to let him walk freely.
In my opinion the longer Denver waits the more expensive Simmons may become. There are a number of good free agent safeties who may push the market this year and there is the big albatross of a Jamal Adams extension that could come prior to the deadline to sign Simmons to a long term contract. If anything it probably pays to wait in Simmons case now depending on how strong an offer comes from Denver.
Because this is Simmons second franchise tag he won’t be tagged again as a third tag would escalate Simmons price to that of a quarterback. There have been very few non-quarterbacks who have actually played on a second franchise tag so I would think the odds are high that a long term deal happens sooner rather than later. We estimate the Broncos to have about $30 million in cap space, including the franchise tag for Simmons.