Corey Simon: Where Will He Play in 2007?

The Colts aren't saying anything officially until their pending salary dispute with defensive tackle Corey Simon is resolved, but his future in Indianapolis looks bleak. Will he land in your favorite team's training camp this year? Scout.com's Ed Thompson and the network's NFL team experts provide some insight on Simon's bizarre situation.

As teams prepare for the mid-summer launch of training camps around the league, a waiting game continues between the Indianapolis Colts and defensive tackle Corey Simon that once resolved could impact the depth chart of another NFL club.

Or is Simon simply finished in the NFL once the Colts release him as expected?

According to a published report in the Indianapolis Star, the Colts already lost round one of their battle with the former first-round pick of the Philadelphia Eagles who was the sixth overall pick in the 2000 NFL Draft. The team filed the required paperwork with the league in an attempt to recover an $8 million option bonus paid to Simon prior to the 2006 season, but lost that battle. Two additional disputes revolving around the team placing him on the non-football illness/injury list last October are still pending. Hanging in the balance is $1.9 million of his $2.5 million salary from last year.

Corey Simon in January, 2003
(Getty Images/Al Bello)
Simon originally signed a five-year, $30 million contract as a free agent in 2005 after spending five years with the Eagles. The Colts, who rarely pay big money for an unrestricted free agent, plunged in to add some bulk to their defensive line after the Eagles withdrew their franchise tag claim on him in late August, 2005. Simon gradually worked his way into the lineup, but without the benefit of training camp, his weight appeared to have ballooned well beyond the 300-pound threshold -- a playing weight that had allowed him to still have the quickness to post 32 sacks over his first five seasons, including a franchise rookie-record of 9.5 with the Eagles.

Last summer with the Colts, Simon missed the entire preseason and the first four weeks of the regular season following a knee injury during drills that eventually led to arthroscopic surgery. What happened after that is at the heart of the dispute between Simon and Indianapolis. The team placed him on the non-football illness/injury list, ending his season and their requirement to pay out the balance of his salary for the season. The NFLPA filed a grievance on behalf of Simon in mid-October in response to that action. Published reports indicated that the problem might involve polyarthritis, a condition that causes inflammation of multiple joints while some speculated that weight management was somehow involved in Simon's mysterious illness.

Since then, the relationship between Simon and the team has certainly been strained, raising serious doubt that he'll return to the Colts in 2007 once a final ruling is made regarding his salary dispute. At the Super Bowl, every Colts player under contract -- including those on injured reserve and on the practice squad -- was in Miami and available to the media, with the exception of Simon. And when the team presented the players with their Super Bowl rings on silver platters at a recent event in their honor, Simon was reportedly absent from the festivities.

The decision to release the former Pro Bowler shouldn't be a difficult one for the Colts who won the Lombardi Trophy with Raheem Brock and Anthony McFarland anchoring the interior line. In two seasons, Simon's only started 13 games and logged 41 tackles. If the Colts would keep him on the roster, he'll hit their cap this season for an estimated $7 million. If they cut him, they would take either a $9 million hit or -- if they choose to prorate it under June 1st cap rules -- they could absorb just $3 million this year and $6 million next year. So worst case, the cap-strapped team would have to find a way to take a $2 million deeper hit for one season to relieve themselves of $14 million in salary over the upcoming three seasons.

Scout.com Senior NFL Reporter Adam Caplan shared his thoughts on the situation. "Simon's problem is that he will have to pass another team's physical and at this point, no one knows what kind of shape he's in. He reported to the Colts after the trade from Philadelphia in poor shape and he got in worse shape prior to last season," he said. "It doesn't help him that there is decent talent left at his position in free agency.  So Simon, who turned 30 earlier this year, might have a hard time finding a job quickly after his release."

And that begs the question of whether or not another team -- looking at their defensive tackle position with some skepticism at this late date -- might take the risk of giving Simon an opportunity this summer.

Corey Simon in October, 2005
(AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
"I don't think there will be interest from the Browns since they already invested in Robaire and Shaun Smith this offseason, but things might change in a hurry if Orpheus Roye doesn't look like he's back during camp," said Barry McBride, Scout.com's Browns team expert.

Another potential fit based on Simon's NFL history could be Minnesota. But our Vikings team expert, Tim Yotter, doesn't see it happening.

"While head coach Brad Childress is familiar with Simon from their days together in Philadelphia, it's seems unlikely the team would make a serious bid for him," he said. "The Vikings were in search of a backup defensive tackle to add depth behind Pro Bowlers Pat Williams and Kevin Williams, and they pursued Ian Scott in free agency. Eventually, they signed former New Orleans Saint Howard Green, who is expected to be Pat Williams' primary backup.

"The Vikings have the money to go after Simon, but he likely will be looking for a starting opportunity, and given his spotty track record on the field he doesn't seem like the type of motivated player that Childress & Co. would be interested in for a big investment."

Two of our Scout.com team experts felt that given the right conditions, their teams could enter the bidding for Simon's services.

"If Simon is healthy and has his head right, the Bucs would be interested, I think," said Matthew Postins, our Tampa Bay team expert. "The question would be what they would have to give up for him.

"The Bucs have already traded two 2008 draft choices for Jake Plummer and Ryan Sims, and Simon would cost them at least one more pick. It would also depend on the comfort level the Bucs have with their current crop of defensive tackles. If the Colts are looking for a trade, I don't think the Bucs would be interested in giving up another 2008 pick. If Simon is waived, I think they'll make a run at him."

And Jon Scott, our Patriots team expert believes Bill Belichick might take a look at Simon to see if he's got anything left to offer due to New England's current situation at defensive tackle.

"People scratched their heads when the Patriots signed Kenny Smith and Rashad Moore just after the team's minicamp closed. After they looked at Ian Scott and missed out on Sam Adams, Scott Pioli and Bill Belichick were obviously still interested in building depth on the defensive line," he said.

"Whatever Simon's issues were in Indy, if he can leave them there and play decent football on the interior, the Patriots would want to take a closer look at him. New England needs a decent backup to Vince Wilfork, and hasn't had two talented big bodies on the interior since Keith Traylor left. Last year's backup Mike Wright hasn't been able to get the job done at nose tackle and the other backups have been uninspiring."

Other teams that could take at least a cursory look in Simon's direction to improve their depth of talent are the Buffalo Bills, Washington Redskins, and Cincinnati Bengals. But if Simon and his agent don't approach the market with a conservative outlook based on what's transpired over the past two to three seasons, it's certainly possible that the former Pro Bowler may have played his last snap in the NFL.


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