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Isaiah Simmons trade grades: Giants acquire former top 10 pick from Cardinals to bolster defense

New York adds a versatile defender

            Josh Edwards

By Josh Edwards of CBS Sports

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The New York Giants are acquiring versatile defender Isaiah Simmons from the Arizona CardinalsCBS Sport NFL Insider Jonathan Jones has confirmed. The Giants are sending a 2024 seventh-round draft choice to Arizona, per ESPN. Simmons, who was the No. 8 overall selection in the 2020 NFL Draft, is entering the final year of his rookie contract after Arizona declined his fifth-year option earlier this offseason.

First-year head coach Jonathan Gannon elected to move on from the long, talented defender who has never settled into one specific role since arriving in Arizona. When Gannon arrived, Simmons had one request.

“I told them I didn’t want to play linebacker. I felt more comfortable getting back to things I had done in the past,” Simmons said, via the team’s site.   

Just days ago, the coach claimed that he liked what he had seen from the Nebraska native.

“He’s been reliable back there, which is the first trait of a safety to me,” Gannon said. “He’s in the right spot all the time. He shows range and some hitting ability, a little bit of coverage ability, downhill striking ability. Long way to go, but I like where he is at.”

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Isaiah Simmons

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The 25-year-old has yet to miss a game in his NFL career, starting 37 times. Over the past three seasons, he has accumulated 258 total tackles, 7.5 sacks, seven forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and four interceptions. 

Simmons lined up in the slot on 45.6% of defensive snaps last season. He played down in the box for the majority of his remaining snaps, but the Clemson product saw snaps at free safety and cornerback as well. Giants defensive coordinator Wink Martindale has always executed high rates of man coverage so Simmons’ athleticism should be put to good use covering in space. 

Arizona plays host to the Giants in Week 2 of the regular season.

Giants trade grade: B

The trade does not move the needle in either direction very much. Simmons is an intriguing fit for Martindale’s defensive goals but he has proven little to this point in his career. His skill set allows New York to match different personnel groups.

Cardinals trade grade: C+

If Arizona had determined Simmons was not a fit for what it wanted to do on defense, then getting anything in return for him is a positive. However, it is impossible to shake the sunk cost of a first-round pick. The return on investment is rather low.