- Justin Simmons is one of the premier safeties hitting free agency
- Of 2021 NFL free agents, Simmons is going to have one of the busiest markets
- Which teams make sense as a landing spot?
Defensive coaches love players who are versatile, and can be valuable in a variety of game situations. While the NFL has historically valued athletic pass rushers and bruising linebackers the most, safeties are starting to get a little bit more respect throughout the league.
Ones that can play the pass well and be relied upon to secure tackles are even more treasured, and there’s no doubt that impending free agent safety Justin Simmons will be handsomely compensated checking those boxes.
Simmons has spent the first five seasons of his career with the Denver Broncos, improving each and every campaign. His interception totals have not decreased in any season since he’s been in the league. He picked off a career high 5 passes in the 2020 season. He also posted a career high in solo tackles this past season with 77.
The Patriots are known for being penny wise with their finances, and don’t usually dole out large contracts to free agents in order to maintain cap flexibility. However, head coach and personnel maven Bill Belichick might want to make an exception for a player with Simmons’ skill set.
Everyone knows that Belichick made a name for himself on the defensive side of the football, and may be one of the best people to bring out Simmons’ full arsenal.
Belichick is a master of coverage disguise, and having Simmons dart to and from the secondary towards the line of scrimmage could be a confusing proposition for an opposing offense. The Patriots don’t have the luxury of waiting for Tom Brady to bail them out of games anymore. That might make New England more motivated to bolster talent across the board in free agency.
Unfortunately for them, the Bengals find themselves in one of the toughest divisions in the NFL, having to square off against the Steelers, Ravens and Browns a total of 6 times each season. While their history has suggested that they are not active players in the free agent market, Cincinnati will need to bring in quality players in order to keep up with their rivals.
Cincinnati might be breaking with their miserly ways, as the team signed CB Trae Waynes last offseason to a 3 year, $42 million contract. If they view Simmons as a key player who could limit the likes of Baker Mayfield, Ben Roethlisberger and Lamar Jackson, they could dish out a handsome contract to another gifted defender this spring.
Sometimes if it isn’t broken, there’s no reason to try and fix it. Simmons has gotten better and better during his time with the Broncos. Head coach Vic Fangio would probably love nothing more than to keep one of his defensive aces in the Mile High city for a few more years.
Von Miller will be 32 years old next month, coming off a difficult tendon injury. Denver will hope that Miller can re-gain his game wrecking form, but should also look to keep talented players locked up if he’s not able to re-capture that form. Having Simmons around can provide the team with a cornerstone player in the prime of his career, which might be the stage Miller is currently exiting.