1:08pm: Providing further details on the financial implications of the deal, Howard Balzer of gophnx.com tweets that Simmons already had a roster bonus of $4.2MM paid out earlier in training camp. That figure, along with the outstanding signing bonus from his rookie contract, will leave Arizona with $5.56MM in cap commitments to their now-former starter. The Cardinals’ only financial savings will be Simmons’ $1.01MM base salary; the Giants will now be on the hook for that amount.
9:38am: Isaiah Simmons‘ time in Arizona is coming to an end. The Cardinals are trading the former first-rounder to the Giants in exchange for a 2024 seventh-round pick, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter (Twitter link). The deal is now official.
Expectations were high for Simmons upon arrival in Arizona, after he established himself as a highly athletic and versatile prospect. Finding a permanent spot for the hybrid defender has proven to be difficult in the NFL, however, and the Cardinals are moving on with one year remaining on his rookie contract. His 2023 cap hit sits at just over $6.57MM, and Arizona will see minimal savings with this trade.
The 25-year-old played at linebacker during his first three seasons with the Cardinals. The team declined to pick up his fifth-year option at a rate of $12.7MM after being classified at that position. Simmons later revealed that his move to safety was of his own choosing. Player and team appeared to be headed for at least one more year together, especially to see how effective the position change would prove to be. Instead, new Cardinals general manager Monti Ossenfort will cut bait with a Steve Keim draftee.
The Giants’ defense played a large role in the team’s surprise run to the divisional round of the playoffs last season, and the unit will again be counted on to be effective under second-year coordinator Don Martindale. New York lost a starting safety in Julian Love during free agency, but there is also plenty of uncertainty for the team at the inside linebacker spot. Former Colt Bobby Okereke is locked into one starting spot at the second level, but the other first-team role has been in the air during the summer.
Simmons could fill in at either spot, and it will be interesting to see if he is used in a similar fashion to how he wished to be deployed in Arizona. On that point, ESPN’s Jordan Raanan tweets the Giants plan to use him at the LB spot. The Clemson alum has filled the statsheet during his career with 258 tackles, 7.5 sacks, seven forced fumbles and four interceptions. Those figure have not translated to strong PFF grades, however, and issues in run defense helped contribute to the Cardinals’ decision to decline his fifth-year option and, now, move on altogether before his contract year began.
The rebuilding Cardinals are eyeing future assets as they look to contend further down the road. Given his age and draft pedigree, it appeared Simmons could have had at least a short-term future with the team, one whose defense already lost corner Byron Murphy and defensive lineman Zach Allen in free agency. That unit will be without another starter now, while the Giants will take a flier and see if Simmons can live up to his draft stock in Year 4. If that takes place, he could prove to be a highly worthwhile acquisition.