After their first postseason-less season in four years, the Tennessee Titans are seemingly at a crossroads.
With a new general manager, an aging quarterback, an offensive anchor in the final year of his deal and division rivals on the come-up, Tennessee is hearing a lot about a rebuild these days.
Jeffery Simmons, the Pro Bowl defensive tackle who just re-upped with the franchise in a big way, isn't buying it.
"I don't look it as we're rebuilding," Simmons said Wednesday on NFL Total Access. "I like to win. I'm not looking to go and lose any games just because we're all of a sudden rebuilding.
"I think what we're doing right now … we're trying to build something here in Tennessee, and that's the winning culture. We're trying to build a winning culture and our foundation of it, the way we want to play. Of course, the guys who've been around, they kinda knew what we expect here in Tennessee, but mainly the new guys that (are) coming in -- I felt like we had some great signings -- them guys have bought in already to what we expect here in Tennessee and the way coach (Mike) Vrabel want us to play here in Tennessee."
Simmons is two months removed from inking a four-year, $94 million extension, tying him to the Titans through the 2028 season. That makes Simmons the anchor of Tennessee's defense for the foreseeable future. If the Titans were to rebuild, it would be around players like Simmons, who turns 26 in July.
The DT's extension came amid an offseason that began with Tennessee ceding the AFC South title to the 8-9 Jaguars in a Week 18 clunker and Ran Carthon soon after taking over for Jon Robinson as general manager. Tennessee added pieces in the trenches on both sides of the ball this offseason but notably lost more big names than it added, cutting the likes of Ben Jones, Taylor Lewan, Robert Woods and Zach Cunningham, remnants of Robinson's bloated roster.
Tennessee's further lack of investment at key positions like receiver has curios wondering if the Titans are preparing to shed even bigger names such as Ryan Tannehill, Derrick Henry and Kevin Byard, three of the four highest-paid players on the team; Tannehill and Henry's deals are up after 2023, while Byard, who rejected a pay cut this offseason, still has two years remaining on an extension signed in 2019.
From Simmons' vantage point, in the midst of mandatory minicamp in early June, the Titans aren't throwing away a season that's still three months away. Tennessee's cash-shedding isn't surrender -- it's something else.
"I don't look at it as a rebuilding. I look at it as another opportunity to come back this year to finish our season off the way it was supposed to have been last year," Simmons said. "The way we finished last year wasn't what we wanted it to be. We didn't finish the way I wanted it to be, especially being the leader and captain. That's not who we are in Tennessee.
"I'm looking forward to this season. I'm not looking forward to no rebuild season. I'm looking forward to winning."