The Tennessee Titans have made it clear that they want Chris Simms to return in 2009.
The quarterback told The City Paper that the Titans’ front office has contacted his agent Tom Condon and that team representatives have made a point to contact him and let them know of their continued interest in re-signing him.
“I do believe they have had some preliminary talks,” Simms said. “They reached out to my agent a little bit and contacted him, and I’ve had people reach out to me in the organization, too. To me, they’ve gone above and beyond by basically calling to say I was still on their radar and that they’d like to get something done.”
Tennessee’s quarterback situation is among the most unsettled on the team with Simms, who was the third-stringer last year a free agent, as well as starter Kerry Collins, who has said he wants to return to the Titans, but not as a backup. In between them is former first-round pick Vince Young, whose future as the Titans’ starter still appears muddled at best for now.
For now, Simms, 28, is in a bit of a holding pattern as the situation still has to play out not only for him, but for Collins as well. There have been reports that several teams, including the Chicago Bears, have Simms on their wish list this offseason.
“I’m kind of just sitting back and waiting for everything to play itself out. Like I said all season long, I love Nashville, I love the Titans and the organization, and I definitely would favor going back there,” Simms said. “But I do want to make sure the situation is somewhat suitable for myself as well. I’m really just kind of sitting back and seeing what happens over the next few weeks.”
Simms knows that missing nearly two years of football after having his spleen removed in 2006, means he probably won’t be in a situation to be a starting quarterback immediately. He had been the Buccaneers’ primary starter in 2005 and ’06 until the injury.
The Titans signed Simms after the first week of the season when Young went down with a knee injury. He had been released by Tampa Bay during final cuts.
He is OK with coming in as a backup with perhaps the chance to eventually become a starter. The questions in Tennessee are: Could he wrangle the No. 2 job away from Young in camp? Or if Collins elected not to re-sign, could Simms possibly play himself into a camp battle with Young or another acquisition for the starting role?
“All I can really ask for is a chance to compete and hopefully they would give me that opportunity,” Simms said. “I’m a realistic person. I know the NFL and have been around for a long time, so I know whoever brings me in is not going to bring me in as full-fledged starter having not played football in two years.
“Whoever brings me in is more than likely bringing me in as a backup and kind of seeing where it goes from there.”
No matter where Simms lands, he has already cleared his biggest hurdle.
“I’m just extremely happy that I’m 100 percent healthy again and I feel the way I did before I got injured,” Simms said. “I know what I’m capable of playing-wise. I did have some good years and some success before I got injured, and I definitely feel good about myself again as well.”
He credited the Titans with ratcheting up his rehab after he came to Tennessee to get himself back completely healthy by season’s end. His progress was clearly evident on the practice field as his arm strength and mechanics rounded into form as the season went on.
“There were definitely times when I doubted whether it would happen or not. I’m not gonna lie to you,” Simms said. “At this time last year, I was somewhat concerned if I would ever be the same, and I didn’t have a whole lot of answers or people pointing me in the right direction.
“I got better, yes, but I can honestly say that I didn’t get back to 100 percent until I got to the Titans and they stepped up my rehab two or three notches, which I’m extremely grateful for. They got me over the that hump, so I can say I feel like the old Chris Simms again.”