Versatile Safety Isaiah Simmons Joins New York Giants, Adding Depth to Positionless Defense

Just weeks before the start of the 2023 NFL season, the Giants and the Cardinals reached an agreement that will bring Simmons to New York pending a physical examination. In exchange, the Giants will send a 2024 seventh-round draft pick to the Cardinals.

This trade adds a layer of excitement to the upcoming season as the Giants prepare to integrate Simmons into their defensive strategy.

Simmons, the ninth overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, brings an impressive track record to his new team. He boasts an unblemished attendance record, having played in all 50 regular-season games over three seasons, with 37 of those games as a starter.

His statistics reflect his versatility, with notable achievements such as 181 tackles, 7.5 sacks, four interceptions (including one for a touchdown), and 16 passes defensed.

The previous season saw him achieve career highs in sacks, interceptions, tackles for loss, and passes defensed.

However, beyond his statistics, Simmons is renowned for his adaptability on the field. His ability to excel in various positions is what prompted the Giants to pursue this trade.

Coach Brian Daboll expressed enthusiasm about Simmons’ potential, highlighting his athleticism, explosiveness, and size as attributes that align well with the Giants’ defensive system.

Defensive coordinator Wink Martindale, known for his innovative approach to defense, also welcomed Simmons’ arrival.

Martindale emphasized the team’s commitment to a “positionless” defense, where players are not confined to specific roles but are empowered to excel in a range of positions that suit their strengths. This philosophy aligns seamlessly with Simmons’ diverse skill set.

The Giants plan to swiftly integrate Simmons into their training regimen, with expectations that he will be present at the training center ahead of the preseason finale against the New York Jets. This timing will provide Simmons with a brief period to acclimate before the season opener against the Dallas Cowboys on September 10.

Simmons’ familiarity with some of his new teammates will likely aid in his transition. Having trained with running back Saquon Barkley and wide receiver Isaiah Hodgins in Arizona, as well as winning a national championship alongside defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence at Clemson, Simmons already has connections within the Giants’ locker room.

While Simmons’ role is yet to be fully defined, it’s anticipated that he will be deployed as a sub-package linebacker, similar to the way veteran safety Tony Jefferson was utilized by the Giants in the previous season.

Simmons’ youth and explosiveness offer a potent advantage to the defense, albeit with the challenge of embracing a new position.

Simmons’ departure from Arizona was marked by a transition from safety to linebacker, a shift that he had reservations about. Despite his initial preference for safety, Simmons is prepared to adapt to the Giants’ defensive strategy, showcasing his commitment to the team’s success.

The trade’s minimal cost, a seventh-round draft pick, might indicate that the league undervalued Simmons’ potential. Additionally, Simmons’ impending free agency at the end of the season and the Cardinals’ decision not to exercise his fifth-year option influenced the trade dynamics.

For the Giants, Simmons’ acquisition represents both a strategic move and a testament to their confidence in his adaptability.

As the season approaches, the team eagerly anticipates integrating Simmons’ unique skill set into their dynamic positionless defense, hoping for a successful collaboration that propels them to victory.

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