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Evaluating the highest projected salaries for non-quarterback free agents

Quarterback is clearly the most valuable position in football and one that is going to receive the most money in free agency. Taking signal-callers out of the picture for the 2020 free agency period, there are numerous free agents who are set up for a big payday — but are they actually worth the steep price it? Using PFF’s new free agency tracker, as well as contract projections from our friends at OverTheCap, we break down the highest projected salaries for non-quarterback free agents and explain whether or not they are worth the price:

10. S Justin Simmons

Projected contract: Four years, $57 million ($31.5 guaranteed)

With defensive mastermind Vic Fangio as his head coach, Simmons was one of the biggest breakouts of the 2019 season. After posting a two-year coverage grade of 58.1 in 2017-18, Simmons had the second best coverage grade in the NFL as a safety (91.1). In his previous two years, Simmons allowed 891 yards and eight touchdowns while combining for eight interceptions and pass breakups. In 2019, Simmons allowed 239 yards and zero touchdowns while combing for 15 pass breakups and interceptions — leading the way to a 32.1 passer rating allowed. For perspective on how stingy Simmons was, a quarterback throwing the ball into the dirt every play results in a passer rating of 39.6.

Is it worth it?

Simmons' improvement at the catch point is noticeable, and he more than proved he wasn’t the same below-average player in 2019 who we saw in his previous years. There’s reportedly been heavy interest from both Simmons and the Broncos in getting him locked up with Denver long-term. There certainly is risk involved with Simmons considering the massive difference in play from 2016-18 to 2019, but the risk seems to be marginal if he returns, as he thrived in Fangio’s system.

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