Cardinals ‘comfortable’ with where they stand with LB Isaiah Simmons

May 2, 2023, 6:01 PM

Arizona Cardinals star backer Isaiah Simmons (Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports)...

Arizona Cardinals star backer Isaiah Simmons (Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports)

(Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports)

TEMPE — The Arizona Cardinals did what many expected them to do in declining linebacker Isaiah Simmons’ fifth-year option on Monday.

He marks one of 14 players across the NFL who didn’t see their fifth-year option picked up ahead of Tuesday’s deadline.

With Arizona’s decision, Simmons will enter 2024 as an unrestricted free agent, free to sign with any team that comes calling.

But until then, Simmons remains firmly a Cardinal for at least one season under new head coach Jonathan Gannon and first-year defensive coordinator Nick Rallis.

“I had a really good talk with Isaiah. We’re really comfortable with where we’re at with him. He’s very comfortable with it,” Gannon said Tuesday. “The option … really doesn’t change (anything). That’s why I love when I say I’m really comfortable where we’re at and comfortable where he’s at is it doesn’t change how he goes about what he’s doing.

“He knows he has to play well for us and for him and that’s like everybody. I really like where his mindset’s at and excited to get to work with him.”

And with one big decision out of the way, Rallis and the defense are now met with yet another:

Where exactly do you play the guy?

Across three seasons, Simmons has been moved around the formation as former DC Vance Joseph worked at finding the right spot the versatile backer can flourish in.

Despite not really having a concrete home on a year-to-year basis, the hybrid has still stuffed the stat sheet behind 258 tackles, 7.5 sacks, four interceptions — one returned for a score — 16 passes defensed, seven forced fumbles and 11 QB hits.

We all have seen Simmons’ ability to change games. It’s on Rallis to utilize him properly within the unit.

“I think No. 1 is you get really good at one thing and keep building off of that,” the DC said Tuesday. “He’s picking up everything that we’re installing extremely fast, which may get you really excited and say, ‘OK, let’s keep adding.’

“Because the skillset, versatility, the high intelligence, you’re able to do a lot of different things with one guy to bring out all those different skills that he has.”

Cardinals Corner

(L-R) D.J. Humphries #74 and Kyler Murray #1 of the Arizona Cardinals run onto the field before the...

Tyler Drake

Cardinals OL D.J. Humphries closer with QB Kyler Murray through injury

While D.J. Humphries didn't have to learn how to bounce back from an injury like his, he did learn something new about his starting QB.

13 hours ago

Hollywood Brown...

Tyler Drake

Hollywood Brown determined to be ‘the guy’ for Arizona Cardinals

Hollywood Brown's mentality hasn't changed despite the switch in the Cardinals wide receivers room this offseason.

13 hours ago

Aaron Brewer...

Tyler Drake

Arizona Cardinals re-sign LS Aaron Brewer, release Joe Fortunato

The Arizona Cardinals re-signed long snapper Aaron Brewer and released Joe Fortunato on Tuesday, the team announced.

3 days ago

Carlos Watkins...

Tyler Drake

Carlos Watkins ‘sees vision’ the Cardinals are aiming to achieve

After meeting with head coach Jonathan Gannon and DC Nick Rallis during free agency, Carlos Watkins knew his future was in the desert.

3 days ago

Zaven Collins during OTAs...

Tyler Drake

Cardinals LB Zaven Collins embracing life on the edge

Cardinals linebacker Zaven Collins is getting more work on the outside than ever before since arriving to the desert in 2020.

4 days ago

Colt McCoy...

Tyler Drake

Colt McCoy, Cardinals experiencing the ‘learning curve’ of new regime

Cardinals quarterback Colt McCoy sees the value in organized team activity reps, especially working under a new OC and offensive scheme.

4 days ago

Cardinals ‘comfortable’ with where they stand with LB Isaiah Simmons