Cards decline 5th-year option for linebacker Isaiah Simmons

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TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — The Arizona Cardinals have declined to pick up the fifth-year option for linebacker Isaiah Simmons, who was the No. 8 overall pick in the 2020 draft.

First-year Cardinals coach Jonathan Gannon confirmed the team's decision on Tuesday. The extension would have been worth roughly $12.7 million.

“It doesn't change how he goes about what he's doing," Gannon said of Simmons. “He knows he has to play well for us and for him. That's like everybody. I really like where his mindset is at and excited to get to work with him.”

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The Clemson standout was viewed as one of the best defensive prospects in the 2020 draft, but he hasn't lived up to expectations. Simmons was fourth on the team with 99 tackles in 2022, including five for a loss and four sacks.

Simmons is still under contract next season in the final year of his rookie deal.

He's had several good moments, but has occasionally lost playing time over his first three seasons because of inconsistency. Now he gets to try and jumpstart his career in Year 4 with a new coaching staff, which still believes he can be a star player.

“I think, No. 1, is you get really good at one thing and then you build off that,” Cardinals defensive coordinator Nick Rallis said. “Isaiah — he's picking up everything we're installing extremely fast, which gets you really excited."


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David Brandt, The Associated Press