The New York Giants added a piece to their defense by trading for Arizona Cardinals safety Isaiah Simmons, the team announced Thursday. New York gave up a seventh-round pick for the No. 8 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.
Simmons, 25, was converted to safety this offseason after he spent his first three years as a linebacker and tallied 258 combined tackles, 11 quarterback hits, 7.5 sacks and four interceptions in 50 games. Despite his listed position, Simmons mostly played in the secondary in 2022 — he played slot cornerback on 409 snaps, wide cornerback on 28 snaps and free safety on 53 snaps, according to Pro Football Focus. Simmons played in the box or on the defensive line in only 407 total snaps.
Now in New York, Simmons will get a chance to compete in defensive coordinator Wink Martindale's group. Xavier McKinney will likely remain the starting free safety while the other safety position remains up for grabs with Jason Pinnock and Dane Belton jockeying for the role. Simmons is still a raw prospect — especially in his new position — but played a lot of deep safety during his time at Clemson.
Soon after the trade became official, Giants head coach Brian Daboll said they plan to have Simmons do "quite a bit of things" on defense.
A seventh-round pick for a top-10 draft pick still on his rookie contract isn't much to give up for the Giants. The Cardinals declined Simmons' fifth-year option during the offseason and he will be a free agent at the end of the season.
In his camp tour of the Cardinals earlier this summer, Yahoo Sports' Charles Robinson wrote of Simmons:
It’s clear the staff is looking for focus and consistency from Simmons, but there also seemed to be subtle vibe that Simmons isn’t a great fit schematically (or with the physical mentality head coach Jonathan Gannon wants to have on the field). He’s definitely missing something in the development equation and has a lot to prove.
While Simmons didn't find his role with the Cardinals, he very well could with the Giants, a team that looks to build on its playoff appearance in the 2022 season in the competitive NFC East.