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Cardinals Trade Isaiah Simmons To New York Giants For Draft Pick

Team receives a seventh-round pick in 2024 for former first-round choice

Safety Isaiah Simmons (9), here talking with teammates Christian Matthew (35), Marco Wilson (right) and former teammate Byron Murphy (7) after practice on Wednesday, was traded to the Giants on Thursday morning.
Safety Isaiah Simmons (9), here talking with teammates Christian Matthew (35), Marco Wilson (right) and former teammate Byron Murphy (7) after practice on Wednesday, was traded to the Giants on Thursday morning.

EAGAN, Minn. -- The Cardinals never could figure out where to play Isaiah Simmons, but that isn't their responsibility anymore.

Simmons was traded to the New York Giants on Thursday morning for a seventh-round pick in 2024, a return that underscores where Simmons' status has fallen after he was a first-round pick -- the eighth overall -- in 2020. The deal won't be complete until Simmons passes a physical, although that is expected.

"I don't think it was an issue of what Isaiah did, he did everything that we asked him to do," coach Jonathan Gannon said. "Moving forward we feel this is the best way we want to play football against other people. We're going to try and put the best guys out there that can function and do the best job."

Simmons was an athletic freak who was drafted by previous GM Steve Keim to be a rangy inside linebacker in the mold of former Pro Bowler Daryl Washington. He also had the ability to move around the field as needed.

But Simmons never quite took to the position -- he struggled to cover tight ends, one of the things both he and the Cardinals believed would be a strength -- and last season, he was playing slot cornerback more than anywhere else. Simmons flashed at times, with a game-turning interception against the Seahawks in 2020 and a forced fumble against the Raiders in 2022, both in overtime, but the consistency was never there.

When the Cardinals changed coaches, defensive coordinator Nick Rallis moved Simmons to safety, with the idea Simmons' athleticism would give the team a rangy, physical playmaker in the back. But it also meant one of the defense's best players, Jalen Thompson, was going to have to play nickel more than safety.

Simmons' last look from the Cardinals came against the Chiefs in last week's preseason loss, a game in which SImmons got lost in coverage a couple of times and also overran a potential hit on a QB run by the Chiefs' Shane Buechele on a touchdown.

"We have talked to a lot of teams about different players," GM Monti Ossenfort said. "The situation presented itself (Thursday) morning and where we are as a team and where we are in camp, we felt like this is the right move for us to make."

Ossenfort said the Chiefs game was not the spark for the trade.

"With all these decisions, it's a culmination," Ossenfort said. "We won't make a snap judgement on one game or one play or anything like that. It's a culmination of since we all got here, in the spring, in camp and a decision we came to, and not a reaction."

Simmons is scheduled to become a free agent after the 2023 season, after the Cardinals had declined to pick up his fifth-year option for 2024 earlier this year. His salary is $1.01 million for 2023.

The Giants visit the Cardinals for the Cards' home opener in Week 2. The team must be down to the 53-man limit on Tuesday.

"For sure" a message has been sent, tackle D.J. Humphries said. "I know especially for the young guys, they've never really seen anyone get traded, let alone a first-round pick. I think it lit a fire under the young guys. Guy like me, I've seen it, it's a part of the business. I hate to see Isaiah go, that was my little brother."

Linebacker Zaven Collins, the 2021 first-round pick, was supposed to be paired with Simmons as the inside linebacker pair of the future, is also playing a different position these days.

"Everyone is the same," Collins said. "It doesn't matter where you are drafted. We all bleed the same, we can all be cut the same, we can all be traded the same. You've got to put your best foot forward every day to earn your spot at the dinner table."

The Cardinals now have 12 picks in next year's draft, although Ossenfort said that wasn't the point of the deal and Gannon also emphasized moves now are about 2023.

"We are obviously trying to win games," Gannon said. "And doing what we can to win games. The picks and all that stuff, I don't handle that stuff. We felt like it was a good decision, and we move on."