Justin Simmons Posts 7-Word Comment on NFL Keeping ‘Tush Push’ Legal

Getty Former Denver Broncos free safety Justin Simmons

Barring any additional picks or trades, the Denver Broncos will rely on Brandon Jones, Delarrin Turner-Yell, Devon Key, and Tanner McCallister to fill the void Justin Simmons left after the team released him.

While Denver has an extensive depth chart for free safety, Simmons isn’t just any other player. He is a four-time Second Team All-Pro member and a two-time Pro Bowler who led the NFL in interceptions in 2022.

But as the defensive back who became a cap casualty awaits his next contract, he expressed subtle dissent about the league’s decision to keep the ‘Tush Push’ legal.

He tweeted on March 21, “It’s an offensive play. Makes sense lol”

As Simmons implied that current rules favor the offense, the league’s antagonistic sentiment about the quarterback sneak popularized by the Philadelphia Eagles has softened.

The Athletic’s Dianna Russini wrote on December 3, 2023, “I was told by a league source that (NFL Commissioner Roger) Goodell wants to see this play removed from the game permanently.”

Three months later, NFL executive vice president Troy Vincent confirmed that the play will remain legal, at least for the 2024 season.

The Sporting News’ Jacob Camenker wrote on January 16, 2024, that the Philadelphia Eagles had a 92.5 percent conversion rate on the ‘Tush Push’ during the 2023 regular season. The controversial play’s success for Philadelphia led to most of Jalen Hurts’ 15 rushing touchdowns.

Other teams tried to imitate the Eagles’ signature short-yardage play on third and fourth down but couldn’t replicate Philadelphia’s efficiency. In Week 4 last season, two New York Giants players suffered injuries after attempting the sneak against the Seattle Seahawks.

In a rare occurrence, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers stopped an Eagles’ goal-line ‘Tush Push’ attempt during last season’s Wild Card Round.

Justin Simmons Revisits 7-Year-Old Rant as NFL Bans Hip-Drop Tackle

GettyFormer Denver Broncos free safety Justin Simmons

On March 25, the second day of the 2024 league meeting in Orlando, Florida, team owners unanimously approved the rule banning the hip-drop tackle.

The league explained on its official football operations website, “A hip-drop tackle occurs when a defender wraps up a ball carrier and rotates or swivels his hips, unweighting himself and dropping onto ball carrier’s legs during the tackle.”

Pulling off the hip-drop tackle in-game will result in a 15-yard penalty and an automatic first down.

This rule change prompted the 8-year NFL veteran to quote a tweet by USA Today NFL Writer and SBNation’s Beyond the Steel Curtain deputy editor Jarrett Bailey. Bailey’s post on X (formerly Twitter) featured a video of Pittsburgh Steelers safety Mike Mitchell’s December 2017 locker room rant.

Simmons re-shared the tweet with eight exclamation marks as the caption, stressing the importance of Mitchell’s words in the context of the hip-drop tackle ban.

After their 2017 Week 13 road game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Mitchell said while feeling upset, “I signed up to play full-speed contact football, and we’re not doing that. I feel like I gotta ask a guy, ‘Hey, are you ready for me to hit you right now before I hit you?’ That’s crazy. I’m gonna mess around and get hurt trying to protect an offensive player because he’s running an ‘over’ route.”

Mitchell also shared a 2015 incident wherein Andy Dalton’s off-target throw to tight end Tyler Eifert led to a penalty and a $50,000 fine on him.

As a defensive player, Simmons can relate to Mitchell’s tirade. Regardless of where he plays next, he must find ways to tackle safely, or he will get penalized.

Sean Payton Recalls ‘Difficult’ Meeting Regarding Simmons’ Release

GettyDenver Broncos head coach Sean Payton

The Broncos had to clear cap room to accommodate the massive $85 million dead cap from Russell Wilson’s five-year, $242.5 million contract extension. Unfortunately, Simmons became one of the casualties, and his release cleared $14.5 million in cap space for the Broncos.

Head coach Sean Payton had to break the sad news to one of their leaders and fan favorites, which is always challenging.

“It’s difficult, especially for someone like Justin who’s really been a first-class player for the organization, someone who I know is respected highly in our league, certainly by us as coaches,” Payton said about informing Simmons about his release, as 9NEWS’ Mike Klis wrote March 25. “ That was difficult. That’s the hard part of this job sometimes. It wasn’t any fun.”

But both sides have moved on as the Broncos gear for the 2024 NFL Draft. Meanwhile, Pro Football Focus writer Brad Spielberger’s March 28 article declared Simmons the best free agent left.

Simmons’ 82.3 coverage grade over the past three seasons is a top-15 mark among safeties. His 14 interceptions lead the position, and his 52 defensive stops are a top-30 mark,” Spielberger wrote before suggesting that the Eagles will be Justin Simmons’ best landing spot.

Meanwhile, Spotrac estimates Simmons’ market value at $11.1 million and predicts he will sign a two-year, $22.2 contract this offseason.

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