Should the Eagles pursue Justin Simmons after his release from the Broncos?

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FILE – Denver Broncos safety Justin Simmons (31) runs after intercepting the ball against the Arizona Cardinals during the first half of an NFL football game Dec. 18, 2022, in Denver. Simmons is tied with Pittsburgh Steelers’ Minkah Fitzpatrick with 22 takeaways the last four seasons and has consistently been one of the best deep safeties since entering the league in 2016.(AP Photo/Jack Dempsey, File)

I’m not sure what’s gotten into the water of NFL GM’s this week, but it’s seemed to prompt them into releasing defensive backs. Jordan Poyer and Avonte Maddox were released yesterday, and the Broncos released Justin Simmons on Thursday morning. Should the Philadelphia Eagles be his next landing spot?

Justin Simmons released by the Broncos

Justin Simmons is an eight-year veteran who has spent his entire career in Denver. Notably for Eagles fans, this means he did spend 3 seasons playing under Vic Fangio (2019-2021). We’ll get to that later.

A third-round pick in 2016, Simmons blossomed into one of the premier safeties in the NFL, earning a pair of Pro Bowl nods (2020 & 2023) along the way. While last season was a little less impressive than most of his prior years, Simmons was still a ballhawk who made some big-time plays for Denver, breaking up 8 passes and picking off 3. He had 6 in 2022 and 5 in each of the last two years before that.

Cutting Simmons freed up around $14.5M in cap space for the Broncos, which is actually around what his average annual value has been throughout his most-recent four-year contract. Should the Eagles be willing to spend $10M+ on an aging safety? Potentially.

Should the Eagles be interested in signing Justin Simmons?

As aforementioned, Vic Fangio was once his Head Coach, and is now the defensive coordinator in Philadelphia. The familiarity would be paramount when considering how complex Fangio’s scheme is often regarded and the Eagles need some stability on the back end.

DENVER, CO – DECEMBER 19: Denver Broncos head coach Vic Fangio walks along the sideline during a game between the Denver Broncos and the Cincinnati Bengals at Empower Field at Mile High on December 19, 2021 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Icon Sportswire)

Sydney Brown is going to miss the opening portion of the 2024 season as he rehabs his ACL tear, and that leaves just Reed Blankenship as the lone entrenched starter in the defensive backfield. The Eagles have around $40M in cap space and the age of Justin Simmons should push the idea of a short-term deal into the realms of reality. This is perfect for the Eagles, who can allow Brown to fully heal while bringing in a veteran who is familiar with Fangio’s scheme while retaining a short leash and not compromising the growth of younger players.

The other good news here is that because so many big names are hitting the open market, the value is likely to come down. Whether it’s Jordan Poyer, Justin Simmons, or someone else entirely, the Eagles suddenly have a few veteran names who can bring strong leadership and stronger play to the table at a position where they really lack depth. Being able to grab those names even a little cheaper than expected should always be considered a big win.

Howie Roseman is bound to have his binoculars fixed on Justin Simmons as free agency looms, but how many other safeties would have drawn his gaze? We won’t have long to find out, with the new league year now just a few days away.

AP Photo/Jack Dempsey, File