Arizona Cardinals declining Isaiah Simmons’ fifth-year option makes sense

Arizona Cardinals v Las Vegas Raiders
Arizona Cardinals v Las Vegas Raiders / Ethan Miller/GettyImages

The Arizona Cardinals pulled off a shocker when they refused to pick up linebacker Isaiah Simmons’ fifth-year option, but the move was the right one.

I might sound hypocritical for a moment, since I once chastised the Arizona Cardinals for refusing to pick up Haason Reddick’s fifth-year option, a move that has since cost them dearly. But we also need to remember that Reddick was playing in the system over the past two seasons (2019, 2020), and he was also Steve Keim’s pick. 

So was Isaiah Simmons between 2020 and 2022. And as we see it in so many sports, if you’re not part of the new regime, then there’s a chance you’re not sticking around. Not that Simmons is going anywhere, but really, why would an incoming regime guarantee for someone from the old guard whose contract is expiring to hang around for another season? Makes little sense. 

Especially since Keim, one of the NFL’s worst general managers of the previous decade, made the pick. Sure, Simmons has put up good numbers, but he hasn’t been overtly spectacular. Nor has he been a game-changer week in and week out. 

Simmons had his moments, and he enjoyed more than a few of them last season, including a forced fumble that led to a big win in Week 2, plus a pick six in Week 7. But it wasn’t enough, nor should it have been enough, to warrant a fifth year in the desert. At this point, anyway. 

Arizona Cardinals right to tread water with Isaiah Simmons

I can’t stress enough that, just because the Cardinals didn’t pick up the option, it doesn’t mean Simmons is going elsewhere in 2024. Arizona has the cap space to sign the star backer to a long-term deal, and you can thank their conservative approach in free agency this past March and April for that. 

But they’re going to make him earn that paycheck. They’re giving Simmons no choice but to be that playmaker for all 17 games in 2023, not just the splash player who has otherwise put up decent but unspectacular overall numbers. 

Instead, the Cardinals want to see if he fits the new regime. If not, then he can continue his career somewhere else and the Redbirds will bring in a player that better fits the billing. If Simmons is a good fit for the new system, then you can expect him to spend another few years in the desert. 

But at this point, it makes no sense to keep someone around for another season if they may not fit. It’s doing nothing more than taking up a roster spot that could go toward a better puzzle piece. That said, I agree with general manager Monti Ossenfort’s decision 1,000%. 

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Source: Arizona Cardinals to decline fifth-year option in Isaiah Simmons, per report by Seth Cox,