Broncos' Justin Simmons expects to return: 'It seems like Denver wants me back and I want to be there'

Justin Simmons doesn't know if the next contract he signs will span one season or several. He just believes it will be with the Broncos.

Denver still has six days to franchise tag the impending free-agent safety for a second straight season. That might be a formality given that Simmons said he hasn't had any recent discussion with new Broncos general manager George Paton.

The lack of contact isn't an indication that the two sides are preparing to part ways, however. Simmons noted that Paton touched base with him upon being hired in January to introduce himself and communicate the culture he wants to instill.

All signs since then have pointed toward the Pro Bowler being a part of it.

"From everything that I heard and I've been a part of for the past, it will be five years now, it seems like Denver wants me back and I want to be there," Simmons said Wednesday on Sirius XM NFL Radio. "I know everyone knows that at the end of the day it is a business, it's just a matter of it working out on both sides and that's just the business aspect of the game."

Simmons has already taken care of the production aspect.

The fifth-year defensive back has blossomed into a star under coach Vic Fangio, earning second-team All-Pro honors in 2019 and a Pro Bowl selection in 2020. That sets him up for an interesting negotiation with the cap-flush Broncos, assuming they don't let him walk. Simmons reiterated his desire to remain in Denver, although he's not sure of the likelihood of his three potential outcomes.

"I wish I could give a percentage but it's tough because there's new management," he said. "All I know is, like I said at the beginning, I've wanted to be there, I've expressed that the last year when I got tagged. I've expressed that this offseason. Just from everywhere else and hearing they obviously would want me back as well, that's pretty much all I know at that point."

If the Broncos opt to keep him on the tag again, the 27-year-old Simmons will net 120 percent of last season's salary ($11.4 million). Such a course could also signal a near end to his time in Denver. No player over the last decade has played consecutive years under the tag and then remained with the same team.

Simmons said he wasn't worried about playing out another contract year, something that could work to his benefit in 2022 given that new TV deals loom and the cap is expected to rise.

"That's definitely something you think about, we've talked about with my agent," he said. "It's not anything that I would say I'm overly stressed about. … These things will take of itself if we just do what we need to do on our end."

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