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Isaiah Simmons Looks To Master His Future

Defensive back is veteran's spot as he goes into contract year

Isaiah Simmons takes a break during a recent practice.
Isaiah Simmons takes a break during a recent practice.

Back when Isaiah Simmons was coming out of college, Jonathan Gannon got a chance to scout him as the defensive backs coach of the Indianapolis Colts.

"We had, at the time, a vision with how we were going to use him," Gannon said, "but everybody has a little different vision for everyone."

The Cardinals' vision of how to use Simmons – and perhaps even how Simmons views himself – is changing.

The fourth-year player has been working as a safety/defensive back in the new defense of coordinator Nick Rallis. And while it's early in the preseason, the guy who has oft been touted as a man who can play anywhere wants to stick with a singular somewhere.

"Only time can tell," Simmons said. "This is a new defense. Personally, I'd like to master defensive back first before I dive into playing with outside linebackers or whatever else that might come about."

Simmons played the majority of his snaps last season at nickel cornerback. How he exactly fits into Rallis' defense will be one of the big stories of training camp.

His future beyond this season remains unclear. The Cardinals decided to decline his fifth-year contract option for 2024, meaning Simmons is scheduled to become a free agent after this season. But Simmons shrugged off his potential free agency and any contract concerns.

"Personally, I go about every year like it's a contract year," Simmons said. "I just couldn't imagine someone would go out there and not have the best season they could possibly have. Regardless of whether I am paid after this year or whenever, I'm going to do the best I can."

Simmons already felt a personal blow this offseason when the team released wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, his closest friend on the team – "moreso like a big brother to me."

But Simmons understands that while he was sad on a personal level, the Hopkins situation is the business of the sport, not unlike his contract.

Simmons does like that he is in the same safeties room that he was in last season under the previous coaching staff, a step forward in truly knowing the position inside and out.

"This guy wants to play and be a premier player for us," Gannon said.

Which was how Gannon and most of the NFL saw Simmons when he was coming out for the draft back in 2020.

"I'd like to be a master of at least everything in the secondary," Simmons said, "before I go on to other places."

Images of the Arizona Cardinals participating in mandatory minicamp at the Dignity Health Training Facility