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What's Next For Isaiah Simmons? 

Gannon says nothing has changed after contract decision

Linebacker Isaiah Simmons is going into the final year of his rookie contract in 2023.
Linebacker Isaiah Simmons is going into the final year of his rookie contract in 2023.

At one point during Tuesday's press conference, coach Jonathan Gannon was talking about how he and defensive coordinator Nick Rallis want linebackers who can play in space and run sideline to sideline.

Isaiah Simmons' name didn't come up at that moment, but it was hard not to think of his game.

Simmons' role is still undefined for this new coaching staff, and they have been wary of saying many specifics. Gannon wants to see Simmon on the practice field, which Simmons hasn't as of yet. But after the news came out Monday that the Cardinals wouldn't be picking up Simmons' 2024 fifth-year option, which would have guaranteed Simmons a salary of $12.7 million, Gannon said he is encouraged with the steps Simmons has already made.

"I had a really good talk with Isaiah, and obviously have talked with Isaiah a lot," Gannon said. "I am really comfortable where we are at with him, he is really comfortable with it, and the (contract) option, it really doesn't change (things). That's why I say I'm really comfortable where we are at and comfortable where he is at, because it really doesn't change what he is doing.

"He knows he has to play well, for us and for him."

Simmons is scheduled to become a free agent next March, unless the Cardinals extend him before then.

While Simmons hasn't been on the field -- he has dealt with a shoulder issue that he suffered in the 2022 season finale -- he has been in meetings.

Simmons has played a lot of spots. Rallis said it is important that Simmons "get really good at one thing" but Rallis also said he wants to keep building what Simmons can do.

"Isaiah is picking up everything we are installing extremly fast which gets you really excited," Rallis said. "It's 'Let's keep adding, let's keep adding, let's keep adding.' The skill set (is) versatile. the intelligence (is) high, being able to do a lot of different things with one guy to bring out all those different skillsets he has."

Simmons' contract decision wasn't an outlier; Of the 32 2020 first-round picks, 15 didn't have options picked up. A few others had their options voided after transactions, and the Packers signed quarterback Jordan Love to a one-year deal for less guaranteed than for which his option allowed.

"I really like where (Isaiah's) mindset is at," Gannon said.