ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — For over a year, the Broncos and Justin Simmons reiterated their collective desire to come to a long-term contract agreement that would keep Simmons in Denver for the foreseeable future.
That deal is now done.
Simmons, the Broncos' Pro Bowl and All-Pro safety, signed a new four-year deal on Friday that is slated to keep him in Denver through at least the 2024 season.
"We're thrilled to reach a long-term agreement with Justin Simmons," General Manager George Paton said Friday in a statement. "He is the complete package as both an elite player for the Broncos and a leader in our community. As a free safety, Justin has every tool you need to be the best. He is a smart, instinctive playmaker who can cover a lot of ground with his athletic ability.
"Justin's a great fit for our defense, and with the speed of today's game — especially in our division — he is exactly what you need in a safety. We look forward to him helping us win and making a positive impact on the Broncos for a long time."
The 2016 third-round pick turned in arguably the best season of his career in 2020 as he settled in for his second season in Head Coach Vic Fangio's defense. Simmons recorded career-highs in interceptions (five) in 2020 and passes defensed (15) in 2019, and he has played every defensive snap for three consecutive years. No defender has played more consecutive snaps than Simmons.
Simmons gained new national recognition over the past two years. He earned his first Pro Bowl selection in 2020, and a year earlier, he became the fifth Broncos safety in team history to earn AP All-Pro honors as a second-team selection.
The Boston College product has been a staple in the defensive backfield as he's recorded at least two interceptions in each of his five seasons in Denver. Through his first five seasons, Simmons has recorded the second-most interceptions of any Broncos safety, and his 16 career interceptions already rank fifth all time in franchise history among safeties. Since 2018, Simmons has recorded the most interceptions in the NFL by a safety, matched only by Tyrann Mathieu.
Off the field, Simmons has been just as impactful. He was the Broncos' Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year in back-to-back years (2019-20), just the fourth Bronco to be nominated for the national award more than once. Simmons has worked with dozens of local organizations during his time in Denver, is a two-time winner of the Broncos' Community Ambassador Award and started a philanthropical foundation with his wife, Taryn, in 2020.
In the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, Simmons also made donations to local groups, and he's continued to commit his time to visit virtually with children or to take part in on issues of racial justice and other topics.
Paton hinted recently that a deal could be in the works, as he said on March 4 that the Broncos were in "discussions" with Simmons' agent and that the safety is "the type of guy we want to extend." On Friday, those negotiations became finalized terms.
The Broncos previously placed the franchise tag on Simmons, which ensured he would remain in Denver through at least the 2021 season. That decision, Paton said, was simply "a procedural move" to allow the two parties to continue to negotiate without Simmons becoming an unrestricted free agent.
"Designating Justin with the franchise tag is a procedural move that allows us to continue working on a long-term deal," Paton said in a statement on March 5. "We are completely focused on making sure Justin remains a big part of the Denver Broncos for many years to come."
Denver had until July 15 to come to a long-term agreement before Simmons would have been required to play the 2021 season on the franchise tag. Instead, they got the deal done with months to spare.
This is fifth time in the past decade that the Broncos have agreed to long-term deals with players on which they've placed the franchise tag. Simmons joins Matt Prater (2012), Ryan Clady (2013), Demaryius Thomas (2015) and Von Miller (2016) in reaching extensions. Those previous deals, though, took until July of their respective years to work out.