Bills Named Top Fit for 4-Time All-Pro Safety in Free Agency

Justin Simmons

Getty Denver Broncos S Justin Simmons points to the fans while walking off the field after a victory against the Raiders.

The Buffalo Bills will have a very different look in their secondary next season after veteran safeties Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer departed this offseason, but one report suggests the team could bring in another veteran to fill the void.

Poyer was released on March 6 as part of a flurry of roster moves that generated more than $30 million in cap space, while Hyde headed to free agency after his wife posted what appeared to be a goodbye to the team and its fans. Both players had been cornerstones of the defense, arriving the same week in 2017 and helping shape the team into a Super Bowl contender.

With both now gone, ESPN’s Bill Barnwell suggested that the Bills would be a “best team fit” for Pro Bowl safety Justin Simmons, who hit the open market after his surprise release from the Denver Broncos.

Justin Simmons Could Help Bills Remain Super Bowl Contender

Barnwell noted that the safety market is “flooded with talent” this offseason, with Simmons one of the best available options. He was a cap casualty in Denver as the team transitioned away from quarterback Russell Wilson and shed salary in an effort to go younger.

While Simmons has lost some of his athleticism at age 30, Barnwell suggested he could still find a big role in Buffalo.

“As the Bills rebuild their secondary after breaking up the veteran Micah Hyde-Jordan Poyer duo, having an experienced safety who can still run would go a long way during the transition period,” Barnwell wrote. “Buffalo brought back Taylor Rapp to start at one spot, but at the right price, Simmons would be a viable free safety and one way for Buffalo to try to build a defense that can keep it competing for a Super Bowl.”

Simmons has been a proven difference-maker, leading all defenders with 19 interceptions over the last four seasons, Barnwell added. He earned four second-team All-Pro nods over the last five seasons as well.

“The Broncos also made way fewer mental mistakes with him in the lineup; simply having someone on the back end helping defenders line up in the right place (and having a safety who does that himself) goes a long way,” he wrote.

Bills Tend to Their Secondary

After losing both Hyde and Poyer — while also releasing veteran cornerback Tre’Davious White — the Bills already made some moves to shore up their secondary. They brought back versatile safety Taylor Rapp on a three-year deal while giving a new contract to nickel cornerback Taron Johnson.

The Bills are looking into more moves to help the secondary. Bleacher Report’s Jordan Schultz reported on March 18 that the Bills were hosting a visit with free-agent safety Julian Blackmon for a visit this week.

Schultz noted that Blackmon is coming off a career-best season

“Blackmon saw career-high snap counts in the box and at slot corner in 2022 and followed that up with a more pronounced change,” he wrote. “Blackmon spent 48.3 percent of his snaps at free safety in 2022 compared to 9.3 percent in the box. Last year, those percentages shifted to 31.2 percent and 47.4 percent respectively.”

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