Simmons, who was poised to become an unrestricted free agent, becomes the first player to be tagged this offseason. The Broncos now have until July 15 to work out a long-term deal.
“Justin is one of our core guys, and our goal since I got here was to sign him to a long-term deal,” Broncos general manager George Paton said Thursday. “We’ve had good discussions with his agent. I don’t know if we’ll get a deal done or not, but that’s our goal. He’s the type of guy we’d want to extend.”
NFL teams have until March 9 at 4 p.m. ET to place the franchise tag on their most valuable player.
Simmons, the Broncos’ third-round pick in the 2016 draft, played on the franchise player tag in 2020, worth $11.4 million. He finished with 96 tackles and five interceptions. It was his third consecutive 90-tackle season. He has consistently been an active player in run defense along the line of scrimmage with the versatility to match up on a variety of players in coverage.
The 27-year-old Simmons has the combination of on-field performance and off-field community engagement, given he has played every defensive snap for each of the last three seasons and was named the Broncos’ nominee this past season for the Walter Payton Man of the Year award.
When Paton was hired in January, Broncos president of football operations John Elway said trying to re-sign Simmons was “one of the biggest things” Paton had on his to-do list.
Simmons has consistently been one of the most active players in the community and one of the team’s leading voices in social justice initiatives.
He has won the Darrent Williams Good Guy award, given out by the Denver chapter of the Pro Football Writers of America each season to the Broncos player to recognize professionalism and depth in interactions with the media. Simmons is the only three-time winner of the award since it began in 2006.
ESPN’s Jeff Legwold contributed to this report.