3 players with declined fifth-year options the Bucs should target in 2024
By Josh Hill
This is a bit of a puzzling decision, but also where the potential fun truly begins for the Buccaneers.
By all metrics, Simmons is not only deserving of his fifth-year option being picked up but should be getting an extension from the Arizona Cardinals. He’s racked up 99 tackles in each of the last three seasons and has been a menace for offenses to try and deal with.
His production has been lost in the otherwise awful everything else the Cardinals have going on, specifically on offense. Because things were so bad for Arizona on that side of the ball last year, Simmons got overshadowed and is now in a weird spot with a new regime coming in.
What’s working in his favor is that his new head coach is defensive-minded, as Jonathan Gannon can either make-or-break Simmons in 2023. If all goes well, Gannon will figure out that Simmons is an anchor and someone the defense should be build around.
The Bucs need the other Gannon to surface, the one who in his introductory press conference claimed the Eagles were 9-0 (they were not) and pooched a Super Bowl strategy to stop Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs.
If that guy shows up in Year 1, chances are Simmons will want to walk and the Cardinals are helpless to stop him. There’s no question that Simmons has the chance to be a franchise linebacker, but the Bucs need to ask themselves if they’d value him over Devin White.
Tampa Bay needs to make a decision on White before next offseason, as he’s due a new contract and has already requested a trade after not hearing numbers he likes. Simmons is likely going to get a similar contract, but there’s a chance they could get a bargain on him if bad football in Arizona continues to overshadow his productivity.