Justin Simmons might just be the best free agent safety set to hit the open market. After breaking out in 2019, the former third-round pick proved he was no one-year wonder with another great campaign. As one of the rare safeties capable of playing both the run and the pass at an elite level, he should have no shortage of suitors once the free agency period officially begins.
2021 Free Agent Team Fits: Justin Simmons
The Detroit Lions had the worst defense in football last year and are staring down a full-on rebuild. First-year head coach Dan Campbell clearly wants to build around his defense and running game, and there isn’t a better building block out there than Justin Simmons. Simmons possesses the versatility to do just about anything you could ask of a defensive back, and combining him with Duron Harmon would give Detroit one of the better safety duos in football. With $6.2 million in cap space, the Lions can probably sign Simmons without impacting their ability to improve other parts of the roster.
There’s a reason the Jacksonville Jaguars finished the season with the first-overall pick. Urban Meyer has his hands full, as just about every portion of the roster will need to be improved in the coming years. Safety is no exception to the rule, and the Jaguars have the money to fix their problems. According to Over the Cap, the team has an absurd $77.5 million in available cap space. This is more than enough to sign Simmons and still pursue another elite free agent like Joe Thuney.
Despite their 4-11-1 record, the Cincinnati Bengals are actually a decent shape on offense. Joe Burrow looked like a legitimate franchise quarterback as a rookie, and the wide receiver duo of Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins has the potential to be one of the best in the league. While the offensive line certainly needs work, the Bengals should spend most of their offseason focused on fixing the defense. Cincinnati couldn’t stop anything last year, and Simmons’ elite athleticism will come in handy against division rivals Lamar Jackson, Baker Mayfield, and Nick Chubb.
Between the Deshaun Watson trade rumors and the general dysfunction surrounding the organization, Houston might just be the least attractive free agent destination in the league. That said, money talks, and Simmons could go to Houston if they make the highest offer. Admittedly, this will be hard to do, as Houston is currently $13.4 million over the presumed salary cap. However, if the Texans find a way to clear money, it’s hard to think of a better defensive building block on which to base your rebuild than Simmons.
The Dallas Cowboys have been looking for a quality safety for the better part of the past five years. Even before 2020’s defensive breakdown, this unit never had a versatile, hard-hitting safety that can also drop back in coverage and take away the deep pass. Justin Simmons fits that description to a tee and would be a welcome addition in the Dallas secondary. Signing Dak Prescott is obviously the top priority, but the Cowboys might be able to get Simmons and Prescott, depending on how they structure the deal.
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