Broncos’ Justin Simmons focused on games, not contract halfway through season

Broncos' Justin Simmons focused on games, not contract halfway through season

When the Broncos’ secondary meets to review the previous game or practice, Justin Simmons will often lament a play he should have made, question his pre-snap read and figuratively beat himself up.

Defensive backs coach Renaldo Hill will then speak up.

“I have to tell him, ‘You’re all right — cool it,’” Hill said in a phone interview with The Denver Post. “But he wants to be the best and that’s what you expect from a guy like that and that’s what he expects of himself.”

That never-satisfied-with-his-play mindset allowed Simmons to rise from third-round pick to second-team All-Pro, and it hasn’t stopped this year. He wants to better in man coverage, playing deep middle, blitzing, playing the run and leading — the thirst for improvement is the same as it was the day he arrived from Boston College in 2016.

“He’s a tough critic of himself, but you love that about the guy,” Hill said. “He wants to do everything perfectly.”

A perfect 2020 for Simmons would have been signing a long-term contract during the offseason, but after months of talks, he signed a $11.441 million franchise tender in mid-July.

If Simmons is concerned about his future, he isn’t showing it … or disclosing it.

“It hasn’t been a distraction at all,” he told The Post after Thursday’s practice. “A lot of the time, I kind of forget about it.”

Entering Sunday’s game at Las Vegas, Simmons has strengthened his case to be a part of the Broncos’ future core. He leads the team in snaps (all 557), interceptions (three) and pass break-ups (five), is third in tackles (49) and fourth in run “stuffs” (five). Goal-line coverage has been a hiccup with three touchdowns allowed in coverage, but he remains a sure tackler (only two misses) and  disciplined (no penalties).

“He played very well last year, so to take (his game) to another way bigger level would be hard,” said coach Vic Fangio, an admitted Simmons supporter since early in the 2019 season. “He’s definitely improved and is more comfortable in what we’re doing. Obviously, he’s playing really good for us.”