The Corey Simon Sweepstakes

Ex-Philadelphia Eagle Corey Simon has a reputation as a sometimes-dominating defensive tackle. His pass rushing skills are undeniable, and he is a better than average run stopper. Simon, however, is a bit of an enigma. But that hasn't put off any teams as Simon appears close to signing with the Indianapolis Colts.

While he has, at times, been such a force that he has completely taken over a game, he has also been known to "disappear" for stretches of time, sometimes for a string of games. Since Sunday night, when the Philadelphia Eagles lifted the franchise tag off of Simon, making him an unrestricted free agent, he has been the hot topic all around the NFL.

Now his reputation consists of not just descriptions of his play on the field but also questions about the trouble he might be off the field due to his repeated refusal to sign the Eagles one-year $5.13 million tender and report to the team. Deservedly or not, personnel men around the league who are paid to evaluate NFL players have to consider whether the recent difficulties Simon had with the Eagles organization are an omen of things to come or a one-time situation for which the Eagles are responsible.

In terms of loyalty to a signed contract and being a team player, is Simon closer in comparison to Terrell Owens, Brett Favre or somewhere in between? That question is on the minds of a nearly every team's coaching and management staff in the NFL today, and with less than two weeks until the start of the 2005 season, they don't have much time to reach a conclusion.

In addition to the sudden attention Simon is getting from NFL teams, the fans in Philly are not happy about losing one of their best defensive players. The Eagles lost the 2004 Super Bowl by only three points, and after getting so close to finally realizing their dream of winning the championship, they desperately want to get back to the title game this year while their team is still mostly intact. However, the Eagles are already losing some key pieces. They are unsure if star wide receiver Terrell Owens will be in the huddle on September 11th for the season opener. Starting defensive end Jerome McDougal, shot during a robbery attempt in July, will miss at least six weeks of the NFL's regular season.

So the loss of DT Corey Simon, means they have lost half of their defensive line, which is a significant hurdle to overcome. One bitter Eagles fan pretty well summed up the feelings shared by most his fellow followers of the mean green team in a question submitted to a columnist with "The Philadelphia Inquirer": Question:
"I don't understand the Corey Simon move. How do you just let somebody go for nothing in return? Why not just let him sit at home and not pay him if he doesn't play. At least he is not helping somebody else. They don't really need the cap room and that seems to be the only benefit to releasing him."

Answer:
Letting him sit at home wasn't an option. The moment Simon signed his franchise tender, he would have been guaranteed $5.134 million. The Eagles basically decided that it was better to let him go for nothing than to have him on the team for that much money. That tells you how much they like Mike Patterson, their first-round pick. It also tells you the franchise tag is an archaic concept that needs to be rethought, at least, or eliminated altogether.

So who is this man who has so many NFL teams scrambling to find the cap room in order to make the most appealing contract offer? Corey Simon is a 28-year-old, five year veteran who was the first round draft pick of the Eagles in 2000. The NFL network says the Colts, Bengals, Seahawks and the Giante are interested in his services. Coach Vermeil said on Tuesday the Chiefs are looking into the possibility of entering the Simon sweepstakes. The Dayton Daily News reported the Cleveland Browns might pursue Simon. Browns head coach confirmed the report, "We're looking at the situation to see what action we might take."

Simon's agent, Roosevelt Barnes, said he talked Monday with "seven or eight teams" and expects something to be resolved in the next few days. "I don't think it's going to take very long", Barnes said. Prior to the Eagles announcement on Sunday night that they were removing the franchise tag from Simon, the Ravens, Raiders and Bengals had all expressed interest in the disgruntled defender.

Barnes asked the Eagles to release his client last spring, but the team wasn't willing to lose Simon without compensation. Tom Modak, who was instrumental in the Eagles using their sixth overall draft choice to select Simon, now works for the Buffalo Bills, who might also be interested.

Chiefs fans shouldn't get their hopes up about the popular defender signing with Kansas City. There are many teams with more cap room that are after Simon's services. Although, who would have thought general manager Carl Peterson would have spent top dollar to sign several big name free agents in the off season? Starting defensive tackle Lional Dalton has played better since coach Vermeil was very public about his desire for Dalton's play to improve, but if they can find a way to be competitive for Simon's services, the Chiefs would most likely enter the Simon sweepstakes as well. The fact is, Simon would be a welcome sight along the red and gold's defensive front line.

One thing's for sure . . . Simon has created an enormous amount of interest in a very short period of time. As for the fans in Philadelphia, at least they have something else besides their troubles with wide receiver Terrell Owens to talk about for a while. Where Simon ends up playing is anyone's guess, but all indicators point to his agent's prediction being correct - it won't take long to find out as Simon appears close to joining the Indianapolis Colts as early as today.

That means trouble for AFC teams as Indy will have one of the premier inside/outside threats in the AFC. Dwight Feeney on one end and Simon up the middle. That move shores up the Colts biggest defensive weakness. And that's not good for the rest of the AFC.

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