Broncos safety Justin Simmons serves as one of the team’s union representatives. Last month, Broncos players issued a statement at the behest of the union regarding their intention to not attend offseason workouts.
Meeting with reporters on Tuesday, Simmons was asked whether he regrets the stance the players took, given that so many have shown up for offseason workouts.
“No regret,” Simmons said. “I think the whole point of this was players knowing, for one, that it was their right to exercise voluntary workouts. And they’re just that. Now, I also said — I think it was a question last year, I’m not really sure who asked it, but someone had asked me my opinion on OTAs and things like that. I said, I think there is some value in OTAs. There are different aspects. We’re talking about Phase One, which is just lifting and working out. Some guys are comfortable doing that on their own. Phase Two is the same thing with a little bit of individual drills incorporated there. At that point, some guys still like doing individual drills with certain guys that they’re comfortable with. Going onto Phase Three, I find a lot of value in Phase Three because it’s football. We’re out there 11-on-11, 7-on-7 and we’re working through problems and details together. And I’m just speaking from a defensive standpoint, but I feel like there is a lot of value going into Phase Three, which is why I think towards the latter point of OTAs — talking about Phase Three — why a lot of guys were there, showing up and excited to be back.”
Multiple teams have cut back on Phase Three, reducing workouts and/or eliminating elements like 11-on-11 workouts. Simmons was asked whether the Denver coaching staff has made any concessions from head coach Vic Fangio.
“That was part of the process,” Simmons said. “Honestly, all of us [are] figuring it out. Not even like an NFLPA vs. the coaches thing. It was really just, ‘Hey, we’re one team. We realize what our record has been the last couple of years. Guys want to come in and work, but how do we work a little bit smarter with COVID and trying to meet requirements for times with what is CBA approved and things of that nature.’ That was a lot of what the conversation was. ‘Hey, we want to come in, we want to work, and we need to work,’ right? We need that type of work. It was just figuring out how we can make all of this happen, and not even really compromise. I feel like compromise is giving up on both ends. We just wanted to make it work. Just make ends meet here and really figure this out. Ultimately, the goal here is to just win football games when the season starts, and the season starts now in OTAs. That was the most important thing — figuring out the logistics of COVID testing and what happens if you get vaccines and this that and the other. That was pretty much the gist of it.”
The Broncos did indeed work together. Per a source with knowledge of the situation, Fangio had a conference call with some of the players within the past couple of weeks, and the discussion resulted in changes to the offseason program.
As Fangio told reporters on Monday, there will be no team periods, with 11-on-11 scenarios, during the first six OTA sessions. A source with knowledge of the situation further explained that, given the level of attendance during Phase Two, the Broncos canceled all meetings last week.
It’s another example of coaches and players working through these issues in a cooperative, productive way. And it allows a team like the Broncos, which is struggling to find its footing, to prepare for a tough season in one of the toughest divisions in football.