Isaiah Simmons

Latest On Isaiah Simmons, Giants’ Safety Competition

The Giants took a flier on Isaiah Simmons last year, trading a seventh-round pick to the Cardinals to acquire him in August. The former first-rounder has struggled to find a permanent role in the NFL, but his debut season in New York was sufficient to land him a new deal.

Simmons re-signed on a one-year deal featuring $1.4MM guaranteed in April after logging a part-time defensive role with the Giants. Seeing a 33% snap share under Don Martindale, the 25-year-old recorded 50 tackles, three pass deflections and one each in the sack, interception and forced fumble departments. The Giants have since moved on from Martindale, though, bringing in Shane Bowen as his replacement.

When speaking about how Simmons will be used in 2024, Bowen indicated he will be used as a nickel back on first and second downs. On third downs, by contrast, the Clemson alum will shift to what Bowen termed a ‘money’ position (h/t ESPN’s Jordan Raanan). Simmons began his career as a linebacker before Arizona shifted him to safety. If Bowen’s plan unfolds as currently set up, he will continue to be used in a fluid manner while trying to find a long-term home in the NFL.

Elsewhere on the Giants’ defense, the safety position is one to watch. Xavier McKinney‘s free agent departure created a vacancy in the starting lineup, one which Dane Belton could fill in 2024. The latter has made 32 appearances and seven starts to date, posting two interceptions in each of his first two years in the league. New York selected Tyler Nubin in the second round of the draft, however, providing the team with another option for first-team responsibilities.

Nubin was considered by many to be the top safety in this year’s class, but Ryan Dunleavy of the New York Post writes Belton was ahead of him on the depth chart during spring practices. Plenty of clarity will emerge for many position battles during padded practices in training camp, of course. For the time being, though, Belton has a leg up in the competition. Maintaining that advantage would be key for the 23-year-old considering he will be eligible for an extension after the 2024 season.

New York struggled in a number of defensive categories last season, although the team’s pass defense (19th in yards allowed through the air) fared better. Still, Bowen and Co. will aim for improvement in 2024, and Simmons along with the winner of the Belton-Nubin competition will have notable roles in that effort. They will be among the players to watch closely as training camp unfolds.

Giants Re-Sign Isaiah Simmons

APRIL 10: Simmons will stay with the Giants on a one-year deal worth $2MM, The Athletic’s Dan Duggan tweets. The deal will include $1.4MM guaranteed for the former Cardinals starter.

APRIL 5: Last summer, Isaiah Simmons saw his time with the Cardinals come to an end. The former top-10 pick was dealt to the Giants with the hope of finding a consistent role on his new team.

Simmons succeeded in earning himself an extended stay in New York. The Giants announced on Friday that he has been re-signed, allowing him to continue his play from the 2023 campaign. Simmons, 25, appeared in all 17 games last season while starting four. He logged a defensive snap share of just 33%, but he chipped in on special teams as well.

Last year injected more instability into Simmons’ situation. Already a hybrid player whose role fluctuated in Arizona, the Cardinals shuttled him from linebacker to safety on a full-time basis. Simmons is believed to have requested the move, but the Cardinals’ new regime instead accepted a low-end return — a seventh-round pick — to ship him to the Giants.

This came after the Cardinals, joining the Ravens (Patrick Queen), Seahawks (Jordyn Brooks) and Chargers (Kenneth Murray), declined the fifth-year option for their 2020 first-round ILB pick. All four of the 2020 draft’s first-round linebackers have since relocated. New York then returned the Clemson alum to a linebacking role but did not install him as a starter.

Simmons, 25, had started 30 games for the Cardinals from 2021-22, including all 17 during the ’21 season. In New York, he played behind Micah McFadden and free agency addition Bobby Okereke. McFadden logged nearly 300 more defensive snaps than Simmons last season, though Pro Football Focus still viewed the trade pickup as a top-35 player at the position. Simmons did return an interception for a 54-yard touchdown — in a midseason win over the Commanders — and start the final three games, but he only saw a full-time workload in one game as a Giant. This brought a change from his high-usage Cardinals past.

After adding Okereke on a $10MM-per-year deal in 2023, the Giants have not made any outside moves at the position this offseason. McFadden remains under contract, but the Giants do have a new defensive coordinator — in Shane Bowen — calling the shots. It will be interesting to see if the new DC is intrigued by the prospect of a former top-10 pick being in the mix and offers an opportunity to vie for a starting role alongside Okereke.

Adam La Rose contributed to this post.

NFC West Notes: 49ers, Adams, Cards, Rams

Recent restructures have vaulted the 49ers past the Browns for cap space. San Francisco’s $42.1MM leads the NFL by more than $7MM. GM John Lynch did not rule out some of these funds being used to add a trade piece, but the 49ers are planning roll over the bulk of the space to 2024.

Really, we always look at the cap for three years out,” Lynch said, via NBC Sports Bay Area’s Matt Maiocco. “Obviously, we have all that room this year. But really it’s to create room for future years because we roll everything over. It helps us in future years because it creates some room we’re going to need. … We’ve pretty much done what we’re going to do this year, but you never know with the trade deadline and all that.

The 49ers created some space by extending Nick Bosa, though the team authorized a record-smashing accord that will show up on future caps, but Brock Purdy‘s rookie contract runs through 2025. During the Lynch-Kyle Shanahan era, the 49ers have not been shy about adding at the deadline, as the Christian McCaffrey and Emmanuel Sanders trades illustrate. In place as a Super Bowl contender once again, the 49ers will have some ammo to accommodate a bigger salary if they choose. For now, however, they are viewing the restructures to help down the road. Even with the projected carryover, the 49ers currently are projected to hold barely $17MM in 2024 cap space.

Here is the latest from the NFC West:

  • The Seahawks will not delay Jamal Adams‘ return for another week. Pete Carroll pronounced his highest-paid safety as “ready to go” for the team’s Week 4 Monday-night matchup against the Giants. Adams suffered a torn quadriceps tendon during the Seahawks’ season-opening Monday-nighter against the Broncos last year. The seventh-year veteran spent most of training camp on the Seahawks’ active/PUP list, and while he avoided the reserve/PUP designation, he still was expected to miss regular-season time. Additionally, Carroll said Riq Woolen and Charles Cross have a good chance to return in Week 4. Cross has missed the past two games, while Woolen was down for Week 3.
  • In 2020, the Cardinals had both CeeDee Lamb and Tristan Wirfs on their radar when they held the No. 8 overall pick. Many in the Cards’ war room believed it would be a Wirfs-or-Lamb decision,’s Howard Balzer notes. Isaiah Simmons instead became the selection. While Simmons did not pan out in Arizona, being traded to the Giants for a seventh-round pick last month, he was viewed as an elite-level prospect. The Lions and Giants were linked to Simmons at Nos. 3 and 4, while Wirfs and Lamb did not go off the board until Nos. 13 and 17. Simmons represents another Steve Keim misstep at linebacker. The Cardinals missed on Deone Bucannon (2014) and had slotted Haason Reddick (2017) as an off-ball player for most of his Arizona run. Zaven Collins (2021) has since been moved to the outside. Simmons moved around the Cardinals’ formation, finishing his desert run as a safety.
  • Sean McVay remains the Rams‘ play-caller, but he allowed new OC Mike LaFleur to implement new concepts upon coming over from the Jets. LaFleur added elements from the Jets and 49ers’ offenses that were not previously in the Rams’ scheme, Dan Pompei of The Athletic writes (subscription required). McVay indicated LaFleur — a Shanahan assistant from 2014-20, with the Browns, Falcons and 49ers — has earned the autonomy he received this offseason, when he came to Los Angeles shortly after a Jets separation.

Cardinals Trade Isaiah Simmons To Giants

1:08pm: Providing further details on the financial implications of the deal, Howard Balzer of 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.

Cardinals’ Isaiah Simmons Requested Shift From LB Role

When the Cardinals did not exercise Isaiah Simmonsfifth-year option in May, the 2020 draftee was classified as a linebacker. That meant a $12.7MM option call for Arizona’s new regime. Passing on that guaranteed salary moved the hybrid defender into a contract year.

The Cardinals still have Simmons squarely in their plans, but they have not insisted on a position for the versatile player. Jonathan Gannon‘s staff gave the Clemson alum a choice on where to play. He has been operating as a DB for several weeks. This has come during an offseason in which fellow first-round ILB investment Zaven Collins has been given time as an edge defender.

I told them I didn’t want to play linebacker,” Simmons said, via’s Darren Urban. “I felt more comfortable getting back to things I had done in the past. If they came here and said, ‘You’re going to be a Mike linebacker,’ I would’ve done it to the best of my ability. I think they understood that maybe the designed position I was supposed to be at, and I’m happy they let me come in and lock in on one position.”

Simmons has been working at safety during training camp, with Urban adding the former No. 8 overall pick has most often been stationed as a deep defender — rather than in the slot. Last season, Simmons roved around the formation but spent the most time in the slot (45% of his snaps). The fourth-year defender’s 4.39-second 40-yard dash speed has helped him hold his own in the secondary. This will still be a transition for Simmons, who has not played a deep safety role regularly since high school.

Pro Football Focus rated Simmons as a top-40 cornerback last season. This marked a step up from the unique talent’s 2021 assessment, when linebacker was his primary role. In addition to 409 slot snaps, Simmons also played 297 snaps in the box, 110 on the defensive line and saw a bit of work as a boundary corner and as a safety last season. With Budda Baker back in the fold and Jalen Thompson also signed long term, the Cardinals are preparing three-safety looks under Gannon and DC Nick Rallis. With both Simmons and Collins at new positions, the Cardinals have UFA additions Kyzir White and Krys Barnes as the early starters at inside linebacker.

This year’s free agency classes at safety and linebacker largely struggled to cash in, save for top-market players like Tremaine Edmunds and Jessie Bates. Steep value drop-offs took place as those respective markets sorted out. Simmons, 25, will have a chance to create a market for himself. Considering the Cardinals’ safety allocations — Baker at $14.1MM per year, Thompson at $12MM AAV — Simmons sticking at safety may lead him out of Arizona. Then again, Baker made a trade request this offseason and does not have any guaranteed money on his deal for 2024.

While the three-safety alignment gives the Cardinals options in the slot, they are looking for a second cornerback opposite Marco Wilson. Rallis said (via Urban) the team is “not close” to determining its No. 2 cornerback. The Cardinals let Byron Murphy walk in free agency; he followed Patrick Peterson‘s path by joining the Vikings. A former fourth-round pick who has made 26 starts in two seasons, Wilson is a lock to be one of Arizona’s starting corners.

Arizona re-signed Antonio Hamilton, who made five starts last season, and added Rashad Fenton in free agency. Fenton’s guarantee ($1.5MM) tops Hamilton’s ($76K). Sixth-round pick Kei’Trel Clark has received first-team reps during camp, per Urban. Third-rounder Garrett Williams remains on the Cards’ active/NFI list after suffering an ACL tear during his final season at Syracuse.

Cardinals’ Isaiah Simmons Making Move From LB To DB

When he was drafted as a top-ten pick in 2020, Cardinals defender Isaiah Simmons was lauded as a Swiss Army knife that could play all over the field. Despite being labeled a linebacker by the Cardinals over his first three seasons, he’s been utilized quite a bit in the secondary. Earlier this week, though, Simmons announced that, this year, he has solely been working with the defensive backs, and he will continue to do so moving forward, according to Cardinals staff writer Darren Urban.

After making the opposite switch from safety to linebacker in his senior year at Clemson, Simmons displayed proficiency all over the field with a stat line that included over 100 total tackles, 16.5 tackles for loss, eight sacks, three interceptions, eight passes defensed, two forced fumbles, and a fumble recovery. He hasn’t found quite the same success in Arizona but has shown a similar versatility.

Simmons had his best year in 2022, according to grades done by Pro Football Focus (subscription required). For the first time in his career, he spent a majority of his snaps aligned in the secondary. He spent 45 percent of his snaps aligned in the slot, 33 percent at linebacker, 12 percent on the defensive line, as well as a few snaps at safety and outside cornerback. As a result, Simmons returned his career-best grades in coverage and pass rush.

New head coach Jonathan Gannon scouted Simmons when he was the defensive backs coach in Indianapolis and admits that he had a vision for Simmons at the time. This, combined with the success Simmons found in the slot last season, is perhaps the biggest reason for the official position change.

Regardless, Simmons has committed himself to a dedicated position, claiming he’d prefer “to master defensive back first” before any potential work back at outside linebacker. This new change could end up being quite profitable for Simmons, as well. After his fifth-year option was declined by Arizona back in May, Simmons is headed into a contract year. If he continues to breakout in the secondary, this move could result in a large payday in the coming offseason.

2024 NFL Fifth-Year Option Tracker

NFL teams have until May 2 to officially pick up fifth-year options on 2020 first-rounders who are entering the final year of their rookie deals. The 2020 CBA revamped the option structure and made them fully guaranteed, rather than guaranteed for injury only. Meanwhile, fifth-year option salaries are now determined by a blend of the player’s position, initial draft placement and performance- and usage-based benchmarks:

  • Two-time Pro Bowlers (excluding alternate Pro Bowlers) will earn the same as their position’s franchise tag.
  • One-time Pro Bowlers will earn the equivalent of the transition tag.
  • Players who achieve any of the following will get the average of the third-20th highest salaries at their position:
    • At least a 75% snap rate in two of their first three seasons
    • A 75% snap average across all three seasons
    • At least 50% in each of first three seasons
  • Players who do not hit any of those benchmarks will receive the average of the third-25th top salaries at their position.

With the deadline looming, we’ll use the space below to track all the option decisions from around the league:

  1. QB Joe Burrow, Bengals ($29.5MM): Exercised
  2. DE Chase Young, Commanders ($17.45MM): Declined
  3. CB Jeff Okudah, Falcons* ($11.51MM): N/A
  4. T Andrew Thomas, Giants ($14.18MM): Exercised
  5. QB Tua Tagovailoa, Dolphins ($23.2MM): Exercised
  6. QB Justin Herbert, Chargers ($29.5MM): Exercised
  7. DT Derrick Brown, Panthers ($11.67MM): Exercised 
  8. LB Isaiah Simmons, Cardinals ($12.72MM): Declined
  9. CB C.J. Henderson, Jaguars** ($11.51MM): Declined
  10. T Jedrick Wills, Browns ($14.18MM): Exercised
  11. T Mekhi Becton, Jets ($12.57MM): Declined
  12. WR Henry Ruggs, Raiders: N/A
  13. T Tristan Wirfs, Buccaneers ($18.24MM): Exercised
  14. DT Javon Kinlaw, 49ers ($10.46MM): Declined
  15. WR Jerry Jeudy, Broncos ($14.12MM): Exercised
  16. CB AJ Terrell, Falcons ($12.34MM): Exercised
  17. WR CeeDee Lamb, Cowboys ($17.99MM): Exercised
  18. OL Austin Jackson, Dolphins ($14.18MM): Declined
  19. CB Damon Arnette, Raiders: N/A
  20. DE K’Lavon Chaisson, Jaguars ($12.14MM): Declined
  21. WR Jalen Reagor, Vikings*** ($12.99MM): To decline
  22. WR Justin Jefferson, Vikings ($19.74MM): Exercised
  23. LB Kenneth Murray, Chargers ($11.73MM): Declined
  24. G Cesar Ruiz, Saints ($14.18MM): Declined
  25. WR Brandon Aiyuk, 49ers ($14.12MM): Exercised
  26. QB Jordan Love, Packers ($20.27MM): Extended through 2024
  27. LB Jordyn Brooks, Seahawks ($12.72MM): Declined
  28. LB Patrick Queen, Ravens ($12.72MM): Declined
  29. T Isaiah Wilson, Titans: N/A
  30. CB Noah Igbinoghene, Dolphins ($11.51MM): Declined
  31. CB Jeff Gladney, Vikings: N/A
  32. RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Chiefs ($5.46MM): To decline

* = Lions traded Okudah on April 11, 2023
** = Jaguars traded Henderson on Sept. 27, 2021
*** = Eagles traded Reagor on August 31, 2022

Cardinals To Decline LB Isaiah Simmons’ Fifth-Year Option

One of a few first-round linebacker picks Steve Keim made during his run as Cardinals GM, Isaiah Simmons will now head into a contract year. The Cardinals are not exercising Simmons’ fifth-year option, Ian Rapoport of reports (on Twitter).

Simmons is likely to remain a starter in Jonathan Gannon‘s system, despite the Cards bringing over ex-Gannon Eagles charge Kyzir White in free agency. But Arizona’s new regime will not give Simmons an eight-figure guarantee for 2024 just yet.

Meeting the participation requirements to land on the option structure’s third tier, Simmons came with a $12.72MM 2024 guarantee. The Cardinals are giving the keys to Gannon and new DC Nick Rallis, and the Vance Joseph-era cog will be given an opportunity to prove himself in the new scheme. With the Cardinals regrouping after a wildly disappointing season and an offseason that brought sweeping changes both on the roster and in the front office, it is unsurprising to see the team punt on this option call.

A coveted prospect out of Clemson, Simmons went eighth overall to the Cardinals in 2020. The college national champion carried a hybrid skillset coming into the league but initially struggled to find a fit with the Cards. The team ended up taking advantage of Simmons’ versatility. Displaying his athletic gifts, the nominal linebacker worked as a slot cornerback on 409 defensive plays last season. Simmons also played 297 snaps in the box, 110 on the defensive line and saw a bit of work as a boundary corner and as a safety. He will be an interesting chess piece for Gannon and Rallis.

Simmons’ versatility led to a 99-tackle, four-sack, two-interception, two-forced-fumble season; he returned one of those picks for a touchdown — a 56-yard score in an October matchup with the Saints. Simmons finished with 105 tackles and four forced fumbles in 2021, providing considerable value during a season in which the Cardinals snapped a lengthy playoff drought and ranked in the top 10 in defensive DVOA. The Cards briefly minimized Simmons’ role last season but quickly restored it, though he will start over with a new staff this year.

The Cards used first-round picks on Simmons and Zaven Collins at linebacker over the past four years. Keim did so after drafting hybrid player Deone Bucannon in the 2014 first round and Haason Reddick, whom the team converted to an off-ball linebacker, in 2017. The Cardinals lost three of their top defenders this offseason, seeing J.J. Watt retire and Byron Murphy and Zach Allen leave in free agency. Murphy followed Joseph to Denver. Simmons could become a cornerstone player under Monti Ossenfort‘s GM regime, but the team will make him prove it.

Simmons would represent an interesting franchise tag case, given his usage across the formation, but if he is classified as a linebacker next year, a tag would be untenable. All linebackers are grouped together under the tag formula, a scenario that helped lead Roquan Smith out of Chicago. Simmons now becomes one of the league’s more interesting contract-year players.

Cardinals, Isaiah Simmons Agree To Deal

The Cardinals have agreed to terms with Isaiah Simmons, according to’s Ian Rapoport (on Twitter). Per the terms of his slot, the No. 8 overall pick will earn $20.66MM over the course of his four year deal, with $12.58MM coming in the form of a signing bonus. 

[RELATED: Cardinals To Sign Kelvin Beachum]

Evaluators were enamored by Simmons’ versatility heading into the draft, seeing him as a player who could seamlessly move between outside linebacker, inside linebacker, and the secondary. However, Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury says he’ll allow the Clemson star to focus on just one position as he learns the ropes.

His ability to play so many positions and not really having a chance to focus on one, we just think the sky could be the limit for what he can be if we really lock him in one position for the majority of the time,” said Kingsbury.

Kingsbury didn’t specify which position that would be, but defensive coordinator Vance Joseph has indicated that he’ll play linebacker.

Simmons broke out as a sophomore in 2018 with 88 total stops, including nine tackles for a loss and two sacks. Things only picked up from there – Simmons managed 104 tackles, 16.5 tackles for a loss, eight sacks, and three interceptions as a junior en route being named the nation’s best linebacker. With freakish athleticism and a 6’4″, 230-pound frame, the Cardinals say the sky is the limit for Simmons.

NFC West Notes: Dorsett, Simmons, 49ers

Phillip Dorsett signed with the Seahawks earlier this offseason, but it sounds like the wideout regrets not joining the organization sooner.

“I could have went a lot of different places but I just felt like this was the right fit,” Dorsett told reporters (via Curtis Crabtree of “I felt like it was one year – not too late because I could have come last year and I chose to stay in New England, but I didn’t want to make that mistake again.”

The former Patriots receiver made two trips to the Super Bowl (including a victory in Super Bowl LIII) during his time in New England. However, he struggled to climb the depth chart, as he hauled in only 73 total receptions for 881 yards and eight touchdowns in 45 games for the Patriots.

“I’m not going to say it’s not any fun. Because at the end of the day, I went to two Super Bowls and won one. So you can’t say there’s no fun in that. There is fun in that,” Dorsett said. “But at the end of the day when you’re at practice, it’s all business. When you’re in the meeting rooms, it’s all business. When you’re on the practice field or the game field, it’s all business. But I met some amazing people there. Amazing teammates, media, equipment managers, coaches. I had a great experience there. And I was just ready for the next step, you know, I’m blessed to be here. I can’t wait to get going. And I’m just thankful.”

Let’s check out some more notes from around the NFC West…

  • While Clemson may have capitalized on Isaiah Simmons’ versatility, it sounds like the Cardinals have other plans. Head coach Kliff Kingsbury will allow the eighth-overall pick to solely focus on one position. “His ability to play so many positions and not really having a chance to focus on one, we just think the sky could be the limit for what he can be if we really lock him in one position for the majority of the time,” Kingsbury said (via Josh Alper of Cardinals defensive coordinator Vance Joseph previously hinted that Simmons could end up spending most of his time at linebacker.
  • Retired 49ers offensive lineman Joe Staley will count $2MM against the cap next season, observes Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area. The veteran was set to earn more than $10MM in salary and bonuses before the 49ers released him with an injury settlement. Staley will get $1MM via that transaction, and he’ll receive another $1MM stemming from the contract extension he signed last offseason.
  • We learned yesterday that the Seahawks don’t seem interested in re-signing Jadeveon Clowney, and it could be a while before the edge rusher joins any NFL team