Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Titans’ Jeffery Simmons says focus is not on extension despite not practicing at minicamp

Tennessee Titans star defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons is on the precipice of becoming the highest-paid defensive tackle in the NFL — if we discount Aaron Donald, of course. The Los Angeles Rams‘ defensive leader became the highest-paid non-quarterback in NFL history earlier this month, but Simmons is set to sign a deal that should put him right behind Donald at his position.

Simmons was not present for voluntary OTAs, but is in the building for mandatory minicamp. However, he’s been completing individual work on the sidelines as opposed to taking part in team drills. Titans head coach Mike Vrabel said Simmons has been “unavailable,” but on Wednesday, Simmons told reporters that he’s on a “plan” constructed by the coaching staff. Additionally, he said his absence from team activities is not related to his looming extension. 

“I’m here to play football,” Simmons said. “I got a team around me that handles my contract situation. I’m focused on training, I’m focused on getting ready for the season. I’m on a plan with coach Vrabel and everyone. Like he said, I’m unavailable to practice out here. I just been on a plan with them to focus on how much I can improve, not just doing drills right now, but in the film room, in the weight room or anything like that. My focus is not on my contract. That’s why I got a team around me.”

This is an interesting case, as it almost appears Simmons is in the midst of some sort of “hold-in.” However, he said that he would be on the field for training camp when it’s time, per ESPN. Simmons is coming off of a career year in which he recorded 54 combined tackles, 8.5 sacks, 16 QB hits, 12 tackles for loss and six passes defended. He earned Second Team All-Pro honors, and his first Pro Bowl selection. Simmons is technically under contract for two more years. 

Simmons even took over games by himself in 2021 from the defensive tackle position, as he recorded three sacks in Tennessee’s playoff loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, three first-half sacks against the eventual Super Bowl champion Rams and made the game-saving, goal-line tackle against the Buffalo Bills on “Monday Night Football” in Week 6. 

According to Spotrac’s market value tool, Simmons is projected to sign a four-year, $84.13 million deal that carries an AAV of $21 million. However, this was also their projection before the Donald extension. If we had to guess, Simmons’ new AAV will clear $21 million, but will not hit Donald’s incredible yearly-average mark of $31.66 million. 

With A.J. Brown now a member of the Philadelphia Eagles, the Titans have the ability to shift their “extension” focus to Simmons, who has already established himself as one of the best defensive linemen in the league at age 24. 

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