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Broncos release safety Justin Simmons after eight seasons

The NFL's 2024 safety market continues to be flooded ahead of free agency.

The Denver Broncos have released Pro Bowl safety Justin Simmons, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported on Thursday, per sources informed of the decision. The team has since officially announced the news.

"Justin Simmons' impact as a Denver Bronco extends far beyond his exceptional play during eight seasons with our organization," the Broncos said in a statement on Thursday. "Justin will always be a Bronco, and we thank him for the outstanding manner in which he represented our organization on and off the field. We wish Justin, his wife Taryn, and their children Laney, Shae and Kyler the very best in the future."

The 30-year-old safety grew from a third-round selection in 2016 into a two-time Pro Bowler and was named second-team All-Pro four times in eight seasons with the Broncos. In Denver, he generated 604 tackles, 64 passes defensed and 30 interceptions, the most of any player over the past eight seasons.

Cutting Simmons is a money-saving move for the cap-strapped Broncos, who must navigate a massive dead-money figure from the eventual Russell Wilson release. Simmons was due to count $18.25 million against the salary cap. Releasing the veteran saves Denver $14.5 million on the cap with $3.75 million in dead money.

Simmons is coming off a down season by his standards, which included some uncharacteristic missed plays, but remains one of the top safeties in the NFL. A ballhawk, he should have no trouble finding a new home -- Philadelphia immediately leaps to mind based on need and the presence of Simmons' former coach Vic Fangio taking over as DC.

However, with a flood of veterans hitting the market, they could all eat into each other's earning potential. Simmons joins Jamal Adams, Kevin Byard, Eddie Jackson, Rayshawn Jenkins and Jordan Poyer among recently released veteran safeties.

For Denver, releasing a cornerstone of its secondary underscores the plan to strip things down in Year 2 under Sean Payton. Managing the dead money on Wilson's contract will require the Broncos to lean on young, cheaper players, counting on the coaching staff to milk the most out of the talent to compete in the AFC West.

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