It’s official: Broncos use franchise tag on Justin Simmons

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It’s official: The Broncos confirmed earlier reports by announcing they have placed the franchise tag on Pro Bowl safety Justin Simmons.

It prevents Simmons from hitting the free agent market later this month and gives the team until July 15 to reach agreement on a long-term deal. They were unable to do that last year, with Simmons playing 2020 under the tag.

This year, Simmons will get 20 percent raise in salary on the tag, setting him up to make $13.729 million if he does not sign a long-term deal with the team.

General Manager George Paton insisted since his hiring in January that extending Simmons was a top priority.

“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 Friday. “We are completely focused on making sure Justin remains a big part of the Denver Broncos for many years to come.”

In 2020, Simmons recorded a career-high five interceptions as he earned his first Pro Bowl nod. He made four picks in 2019 when he garnered second-team All-Pro honors.

His 16 career interceptions place him among the most productive safeties in team history through his first five seasons. The former third-round pick has not missed a snap in three seasons.