The Tennessee Titans have a lot of big decisions ahead of them for this offseason, many of which will be conducted by general manager Jon Robinson in the coming days and weeks. The deadline to apply impending unrestricted free agent Harold Landry with the franchise tag looms large, as the Titans must decide whether or not they plan to make a sizable financial commitment to Landry. Elsewhere, rumors continue to swirl between Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the Titans. Thankfully, all of these situations should sort themselves out over the next few days.
But one of the easiest decisions Robinson will have to make in the next couple months involves a player they already drafted, and more details regarding that impending decision were released on Monday evening.
Defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons, drafted 19th overall in the 2019 NFL Draft, is entering the fourth and final year of his rookie contract. As a first-round pick, Simmons is eligible for a fifth-year option, should the Titans choose to exercise it. Teams have until May 2 to make their decision on fifth-year options, and the league released the financial details of those impending decisions on Monday.
Recent changes to the Collective Bargain Agreement means that player performance can now raise the value of that fifth-year option, and an exercised option guarantees the player’s salary in full. Snap count percentages and even Pro Bowl appearances make a direct impact on the value of that option. In Simmons’ case, he’s catching an unfortunate break here, and Robinson and the Titans are getting a discount. Simmons was named to the 2021 Pro Bowl as an alternate replacement due to injury, and wasn’t initially selected for the annual all-star event. This means Simmons IS NOT eligible for the bump in pay based on Pro Bowl appearances.
Using the league’s laid out criteria, the fifth-year option would pay Simmons $10.7 million in 2023, via Mike Garafolo. It would represent a significant bump in pay for Simmons, who is currently set to earn a much more modest $2.2 million in 2022, but is significantly less ($14.7 million) than what Simmons would earn had he initially made the Pro Bowl.
The Titans could always forego the option by signing Simmons to a lucrative long-term extension. It seems rather obvious that Robinson plans to keep Simmons in Tennessee for a long time, so why waste time? Looking ahead, an extension could also help lower Simmons’ cap hit in 2023 and beyond. That doesn’t mean a Simmons extension would be cheap. Not by any stretch of the imagination. Simmons would almost certainly want to surpass the four-year, $84 million contract extension signed by Indianapolis Colts defensive tackle DeForest Buckner. That deal is now two years old, and the market is always increasing, and Simmons is currently playing the best football of his young career.
Keeping Simmons in Tennessee is a no-brainer, either via the fifth-year option or a long-term extension. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see a Simmons extension be completed sometime this offseason.
Is Simmons worth it? Is this an easy decision? Or should the Titans skip it altogether and just give the budding superstar a brand-new extension? Leave your opinion in the comments.