This deal was reported by ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Thursday, August 24.
Schefter also added a note about how Simmons, who was the eighth player drafted in 2020, was in the last year of his contract and that was a factor in Arizona’s willingness to deal him.
The low-cost trade solves what was shaping up to be a tricky problem for the Giants. Big-bucks free agent acquisition Bobby Okereke is penciled in as the starting “Mike” linebacker on defense, but Jarrad Davis undergoing season-ending knee surgery in July has created a void at the other spot.
Simmons could solve the problem, provided he finally settles on one position. Either way, his versatility increases the options for Giants defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale.
Draft Flop Has Qualities Giants Need
He may have failed to live up to the billing in the desert, but Simmons still has qualities the Giants need. You can list those qualities under three headings: speed, range and versatility.
Simmons has struggled to stick at one spot, alternating between inside linebacker, edge, and safety during his time with the Cardinals. While he’s yet to define the core hallmarks of his game, the 25-year-old possesses the quickness in space to be an asset in coverage.
Packing a wallop in the trenches has often proved a problem for the 6-foot-4, 238-pounder, but Simmons can close on the ball in a hurry and make an impact.
There is untapped playmaking potential within Simmons. It’s up to Martindale and his staff to decide which position can best unlock said potential.
The Cardinals had a tough time deciding where to deploy Simmons most effectively. He told Darren Urban of Cardinals.com the plan was to “master” playing defensive back in 2023 after playing the “majority of his snaps last season at nickel cornerback.”
Simmons could have value for the Giants at safety, where the team is still searching for a credible starter alongside Xavier McKinney. Jason Pinnock and veteran Bobby McCain are the obvious candidates, but former Clemson standout Simmons can shake things up along the last line of Martindale’s defense.
Ultimately, though, the Giants would be wise to give Simmons the chance to prove he can make the grade as a pro linebacker. If he can, he’ll fix the only weakness on an otherwise loaded front seven.
Giants Needed Inside Linebacker Help
Martindale has ample talent along a dominant front led by All-Pro nose tackle Dexter Lawrence II and dynamic edge-rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux. Meanwhile, Okereke’s arrival from the Indianapolis Colts has given the Giants a tough and savvy signal-caller at the heart of the linebacker corps.
Okereke is being counted on as the man in the middle who will add genuine speed to a beefy front seven. Martindale told reporters, “If you have a fast Mike, you have a fast defense, and he’s a really fast Mike,” per Talkin’ Giants.
Adding Simmons alongside Okereke transforms the move skills of the Giants’ defense. It also protects the group from being slowed by somebody like second-year pro Darrian Beavers, a potential starter inside who has appeared sluggish during preseason.
Beavers and fellow 2022 late-round draft pick Micah McFadden may now be in a battle for a roster spot following Simmons’ arrival. The latter donning a Giants uniform should also end any speculation about Schoen adding a veteran in free agency.
Four-time Pro Bowler Anthony Barr had visited with the team but left without a deal amid speculation that McFadden was making the job his own, per ESPN’s Jordan Raanan.
Simmons entering the mix gives Martindale one more viable candidate to consider. The pressure-happy play-caller will like Simmons’ blitz skills. He blitzed 39 times last season and logged a career-high four sacks and six pressures, per Pro Football Reference.