Orange and Blue Report: NFL franchise tag window opens


DENVER (KDVR) — The NFL offseason is up and running. Tag, you’re it.

Tuesday marks the beginning of the franchise and transition tag window, a precursor to the beginning of the new league year and the start of free agency — March 17. For new general manager George Paton, this process is crucial as the Broncos try to keep their own players in filling out the roster.

The NFL franchise tag window runs from Feb. 23 through March 9.

The Broncos used the franchise tag on Justin Simmons in 2020, giving him a one-year, $11.44 million contract. Both sides couldn’t reach a multi-year contract.

“I’ve always talked about wanting to be here,” Simmons said after the conclusion of the 2020 season. “I hope it’s mutual.”

If Denver chooses to tag Simmons, he will receive a 20% raise in 2021 — $13.7 million — which is guaranteed if he signs the deal. Both sides have until July 15 to negotiate a long-term contract, even if Simmons signs the tag. If the Broncos decline to use the franchise tag, Simmons will be a free agent, allowing him to sign with any team.

Orange and Blue Report: What to know for the Denver Broncos’ offseason

Simmons, 27, has been a pillar of consistency for the Broncos. His 96 tackles and five interceptions earned him his first Pro Bowl nod in 2020. Off the field, he is the team’s Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year nominee for the second consecutive season.

Here is a look at the five top-salaried safeties in the NFL:

  • Budda Baker, Arizona — $14.75 million
  • Eddie Jackson, Chicago — $14.6 million
  • Kevin Byard, Tennessee — $14.1 million
  • Landon Collins, Washington — $14 million
  • Tyrann Mathieu, Kansas City — $14 million

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