Cardinals ‘comfortable’ with where they stand with LB Isaiah Simmons
May 2, 2023, 6:01 PM
(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.
#AZCardinals head coach Jonathan Gannon on where the team stands with LB Isaiah Simmons:
“We’re really comfortable with where we’re at with him. He’s very comfortable with it. … He knows he has to play well for us and for him and that’s like everybody.”
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— Arizona Sports (@AZSports) May 2, 2023
“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.”