NASHVILLE, Tenn. — One of the most significant players for the Tennessee Titans was missing from the field when the team kicked off mandatory minicamp Tuesday.
Although Titans defensive lineman Jeffery Simmons reported, the franchise cornerstone was “unavailable” to take part in either of the two minicamp practices, according to coach Mike Vrabel.
“He’s doing exactly what we ask him to do,” Vrabel said Wednesday. “I make a lot of decisions. I get to decide who’s practicing and who doesn’t.”
Simmons revealed Wednesday that he currently has a team to handle his contract so he can focus on the field. The idea that Simmons intends to hire an agent is significant because he is set to make $4.02 million in the fourth year of his rookie contract this season. The Titans picked up his $10.75 million fifth-year option, as well.
“When it’s time for the contract talk, I don’t want to be a part of it,” Simmons said. “My job is to focus on football right now and be in the best shape I can be when I report for training camp. My focus is not on my contract. That’s why I have a team in place to focus on contract talk or whatever it may be if there is talk.”
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Simmons did some conditioning work on the stationary bike Tuesday and some sprints with resistance bands Wednesday during practice. Defensive line coach Terrell Williams said the focus is on film work for Simmons during minicamp and added that Simmons isn’t missing practice because of injury.
They’re honing in on ways that Simmons can get better by watching film, according to the Titans. Tennessee’s defense as a whole is looking to force more takeaways which starts with impacting the quarterback.
The goal is to speed up his footwork so he can be more disruptive. Simmons weighed 295 pounds when he checked into minicamp, down from his 312-pound playing weight last year.
“Playing in the trenches, all that weight on your joints and stuff takes a toll,” Simmons said. “If I can keep playing at a consistent weight it will help me later in the season from getting banged up. I feel good when I’m light. I still feel strong, like myself, but me being consistent at 295, 300 [pounds] it will help me help the team the best way I can by staying healthy.”
Last season was a breakout year for Simmons. He finished with 8.5 sacks, 12 tackles for loss and 16 quarterback hits. Simmons was also responsible for knocking down six passes at the line of scrimmage.
Despite losing to the Cincinnati Bengals in the divisional round of playoffs, Simmons still made an impact with a three-sack performance.
Simmons’ team will be in charge of handling his contract talks, but Simmons wasn’t =ready to reveal who will be his agent. Simmons’ uncle, Jason Hatcher — a 2003 third-round pick by the Dallas Cowboys, has been a mentor throughout his life and has been a part of the process.
Simmons figures to command a hefty sum whenever contract talks take place. The market for defensive linemen was recently reset when Aaron Donald signed a three-year, $95 million contract to remain with the Los Angeles Rams.
“I’m my own player,” Simmons said. “I feel like I play the game different than Aaron Donald or whoever that may be. The way he disrupts the game is different from everybody else. I consider myself a different player than him, but my job is to be the best Jeffery Simmons I can for the Tennessee Titans.”