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New York Giants Acquire Isaiah Simmons From The Arizona Cardinals

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The New York Giants completed a low-risk, high-reward trade two days before the conclusion of their preseason schedule.

On Thursday, the Giants acquired Isaiah Simmons from the Arizona Cardinals in exchange for a pick in the 2024 seventh round.

25-year-old Simmons is talented. The Cardinals selected him in the eighth round of the 2020 draft, but he doesn’t play a real position.

In Arizona’s second preseason game last week, Simmons played 25 defensive snaps while playing safety. After spending his first three seasons playing all defensive positions for the Cardinals under former coach Kliff Kingsbury and previous defensive coordinator Vance Joseph, he switched to defensive back this offseason.

The 6-foot-4, 238-pound Simmons will start at linebacker for the Giants. Although second-year LB Micah McFadden had a strong camp and currently fills Bobby Okereke’s starting inside linebacker spot, the goal is to develop into the kind of hybrid linebacker/safety/rusher/blitzer who could thrive in defensive coordinator Wink Martindale’s system.

“Really talented athlete, average football player,” one NFC executive told ESPN of Simmons. “Perfect project for Wink. If anyone can put him in position to succeed, he can.”

On Wednesday, Martindale reaffirmed that he plays what could be described as a “positionless defense.” Martindale’s task will be to finally bring the performance up to par with its potential. Simmons recorded 105 tackles in 2021 and 95 the previous year. In addition, he intercepted seven passes during the previous two years.

He is a talented positionless player with versatility. During his three seasons with the Cardinals, he played cornerback (primarily in the slot) 26.6% of the time, outside linebacker 23.3% of the time, and inside linebacker 40% of the time.

“That is one of the reasons why we made the trade. We thought there was upside there,” Giants coach Brian Daboll said. “Again, we’ll put him in. We’ll ask him to do quite a bit of things just to see what he takes to. A guy that is athletic, explosive, has good size. Seen him do some multiple things.

“Until we get him here, I’ll give you a better answer [of how we use him]. But certainly happy to have him.”

The most likely function for Simmons will be to play all over the field as a sub-package linebacker, much like how the Giants utilized seasoned safety Tony Jefferson last year. However, Simmons is still a young man and is now much more explosive.

Simmons’ acceptance of that position will be the Giants’ biggest hurdle.

“I told them I didn’t want to play linebacker,” Simmons told the Cardinals’ website earlier this summer. “I felt more comfortable getting back to things I had done in the past.”

That meant safety, a position he was a standout at Clemson. But under its new administration, Simmons’ summer in Arizona didn’t go as planned.

Now, it appears he will play linebacker once more in New York.

The fact that it only came for a seventh-round pick says a lot about the league’s current opinion of Simmons. The fact that he is also in the final year of his rookie contract didn’t assist his worth. His fifth-year option was turned down by the Cardinals earlier this year.

The Giants don’t think much of it right now. They simply want to explore the potential of what they fervently believe to be some undiscovered ability and determine whether they can take advantage of their athleticism in Martindale’s blitz-heavy offensive strategy.

Simmons has 7.5 sacks, four interceptions, and seven forced fumbles in his career.

“I’d say it’s obviously pretty early but [general manager] Joe [Schoen] has done a good job with his staff just evaluating and keeping open conversations just about a number of players, him being one of them,” Daboll said. “Explosive. High pick. … We’ll put him in our system and start teaching him our stuff.”

Maybe it will work this time.

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