National Football League
Titans secure franchise cornerstone with Jeffery Simmons extension
National Football League

Titans secure franchise cornerstone with Jeffery Simmons extension

Published Apr. 7, 2023 5:42 p.m. ET

In many ways, the Titans' direction has been unclear. 

Whether Tennessee is rebuilding or retooling has been a big talking point. There has been the Derrick Henry trade rumors. Star safety Kevin Byard being asked to take a pay cut. Ryan Tannehill's future under the microscope. The entire offense under construction. No one knows what exactly to expect from the Titans in 2023. 

That's where defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons comes in. 

The franchise's commitment to him Friday — a four-year extension worth $94 million, including $66 million in guarantees and a $24 million signing bonus, a source confirmed to FOX Sports — gives the fan base some clarity in an offseason in which there hasn't been any. 


It tells Titans fans that wherever this team is headed, Simmons is cemented as a franchise cornerstone for the next several years. 

Locking up Simmons, who had been scheduled to play on his fifth-year option in 2023, was a pivotal agenda item for new general manager Ran Carthon, arguably more important than any other decision he has or will make in his first offseason. Doing so sends a clear message: that Carthon is committed to rewarding the team's homegrown stars. 

Titans fans remember last offseason, when Carthon's predecessor, Jon Robinson, traded star wide receiver A.J. Brown amid a contract impasse. It left Tennessee with one of the worst wide-receiver rooms in the NFL — veteran Robert Woods led the team with just 527 receiving yards — and Brown dominated his former team in a Week 13 matchup, a 35-10 blowout victory for the Eagles. Brown had eight receptions for 119 yards and two touchdowns in the game. 

For the year, Brown had 1,496 receiving yards — nearly as much as the entire Titans wide-receiver corps combined (1,595). It was a slap in the face. 

In dealing Brown, the Titans lost a bona fide No. 1 receiver. But they lucked into having another franchise talent in the same 2019 draft class in Simmons — the 19th overall pick that year — who's now under contract for years to come. 

At age 25 and arguably the best NFL defensive tackle not named Aaron Donald, Simmons is the present and future of the Titans defense. He's the most dominant force on the strongest unit on the team, the defensive line. He has grown into a leader for Tennessee — a defensive captain the past two seasons — outgrowing concerns about his character coming out of Mississippi State

In four NFL seasons, Simmons has 21 sacks, 189 tackles (28 for loss), 46 quarterback hits, 19 pass breakups and two forced fumbles. His numbers last season — 7.5 sacks, 14 quarterback hits, seven passes defended and a forced fumble in 15 games — could've been even better if not for an ankle sprain that hampered him in the second half. 

All offseason, the Titans' moves have been analyzed and dissected, with fans looking for definitive meaning. 

They gain comfort — some, at least — in knowing that Simmons' future is in Nashville.

Ben Arthur is the AFC South reporter for FOX Sports. He previously worked for The Tennessean/USA TODAY Network, where he was the Titans beat writer for a year and a half. He covered the Seattle Seahawks for for three seasons (2018-20) prior to moving to Tennessee. You can follow Ben on Twitter at @benyarthur.

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