While free agency in 2021 is still underway, the Denver Broncos can give Cincinnati Bengals fans a look at free agency in 2022.
The Broncos recently gave Justin Simmons a new deal that makes him the highest-paid safety in the NFL. Simmons is now with Denver for the next four years, making $61 million in total with $35 million guaranteed.
Now that Simmons is making $15.25 million on average per year, he has passed Budda Baker for the highest-paid safety in the league.
After playing under the franchise tag for a year, Simmons had five interceptions, nine passes defended, and 96 tackles in 2020. PFF gave him a 77.4 grade for the season.
Jessie Bates, for comparison, had three interceptions, 15 passes defended, one forced fumble and 109 tackles. His 90.1 PFF grade is the highest of any safety in the NFL in 2020.
Any agent or front office executive will tell you that they don’t use PFF grades in contract negotiations, but this says that Bates is comparable to Simmons at worst and superior at best.
Bates might actually be able to draw a higher salary than Simmons based on a few other factors.
First of all, Bates is nearly a full three years younger than Simmons. By the end of his four-year deal, Simmons will be 32 years old. If Bates signs a similar deal, he would only be 30 by the time that deal would expire.
Secondly, the salary cap is at it’s lowest over the last ten years, and is only expected to go up from here. With a new TV deal expected to kick in soon, players will be demanding a larger share of the increased salary cap next year.
Third of all, Bates is represented by David Mulugheta of Athletes First. Mulugheta also represent Budda Baker, Jalen Ramsey, and Michael Thomas. His clients are constantly signing record-breaking contracts, so Bates has a proven negotiator working on his behalf.
If Bates signs an identical contract, then he would be the highest paid player based on average salary in Cincinnati. Right now, Trey Hendrickson, Trae Waynes, D.J. Reader, and Joe Mixon are in the top four, and they all got their contracts sometime in the last two years. Bates is hitting his contract year while the Bengals have a spending mindset.
It’s not far fetched to think that Bates will pass Simmons next year as the highest paid safety in the league. And if the Bengals handle Bates like they do with their other homegrown stars, he’ll likely be offered an extension sometime this Summer.