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DENVER, CO - SEPTEMBER 15: Garett Bolles #72 of the Denver Broncos walks off the field prior to taking on the Chicago Bears at Empower Field at Mile High on September 15, 2019 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Timothy Nwachukwu/Getty Images)
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How should the Broncos manage the contracts for Bolles and Simmons?

(Photo by Timothy Nwachukwu/Getty Images)

The Broncos are going to be in a unique situation in the upcoming offseason. That’s when they’ll have to figure out how they are going to manage safety Justin Simmons and Garett Bolles’ contracts?

With Simmons playing this season on the franchise tag, the Broncos are unable to negotiate a long-term deal with him during the season. This means that once the 2021 NFL season begins in March, the Broncos will then be able to try to get a deal done with Simmons.

Right now, Simmons’ cap hit is $11.4 million. If the Broncos decide to tag Simmons again, they will have to pay 120% of his $11.4 million. That’s a little over $13.6 million. This means the starting price that Simmons will ask the Broncos or any team to pay him per season is $13.6 million.

Right now, that would rank Simmons the fifth-highest paid safety. Budda Baker is first with $14.75 million per season. The Broncos didn’t want to pay Simmons that kind of money in the past offseason, but the way he is playing this season, they’ll have to offer him more than $14 million per season.

One issue is that Simmons might not want to remain in Denver and could want to play somewhere else. Depending how the Broncos finish the season could impact Simmons’ future with Denver.

Simmons has excelled under Vic Fangio’s defense and has earned himself a spot as a second-team All-Pro in 2019. The 27-year-old safety has never had more than four interceptions in a single season, but he does have four this season through only 10 games. His numbers have been the best they’ve ever been under Fangio calling plays.

If the Broncos keep Fangio around, they should go ahead and make Simmons one of the highest-paid safeties in the NFL.

Bolles is proving everyone wrong. Man are we excited to say those words. After having his struggles since he’s entered the league and been one of the biggest enemies in Denver, Bolles has played like one of the best left tackles in the NFL.

Yes, the NFL has told its officials to lay off the holding penalties this and it’s helped Bolles. Has he gotten away with a few calls? Yes, but he also doesn’t have to focus and worry about those calls on a play by play basis. Bolles can finally relax.

In his second season under offensive line coach Mike Munchak, Bolles has improved dramatically. For what it’s worth, Pro Football Focus has continued to grade Bolles as one of the best left tackles in all of football. In fact, the former offensive lineman on The Fan staff – Mark Schlereth, Orlando Franklin and Tyler Polumbus – have all said he’s played as the best offensive lineman on the team.

When watching games on Sundays, the left tackle position has been the last thing to worry about. Drew Lock has rarely been pressured from the left side in the passing game. Bolles has even excelled in the running game, as well.

Even last week against Miami, the Denver offense used Bolles quite a bit to pull him to the right side as a lead blocker for Lindsay and Gordon. The play worked so well that Pat Shurmur called the same play multiple times and Miami was unable to stop it.

What should Denver do with Bolles moving forward now? The Broncos declined his fifth-year option in the offseason, but that doesn’t mean the Broncos can start negotiating with him now.

If the Broncos decided to place the franchise tag on Bolles, right now it would cost the Broncos $18.6 million next season. That’s based on left tackle salaries today. Bolles will want the biggest payday he can get and the fifth-ranked left tackle costs $15.5 million. That’s probably the number Bolles will refuse to go under unless the Broncos can try and give him a long-term deal before the season ends.

The only issue for the Broncos if they do give Bolles a long-term deal, the scary part would be is if Bolles falls back to what he has last season and beyond. If Mike Munchak is telling the Broncos he will be around for a while and thinks Bolles is the answer at left tackle, Denver should start negotiating now. Don’t forget Munchak has a lot of pull on what the Broncos do on the offensive line than what most people think.

The salary cap will be a huge issue for the Broncos next season, because the cap will likely go down next year due to COVID-19. If Denver wants to keep both players, they’ll likely need to move on or restructure Von Miller’s contract to create more cap space.

Denver will have big questions at two key positions in the offseason and it all comes down to the final six games of this season.