The New York Giants used their first-round pick in the 2023 NFL draft to strengthen the cornerback position, addressing a severely undermanned unit last year. With Wink Martindale’s man coverage-centric scheme at the helm, having high-quality corners is essential. General manager Joe Schoen also invested in the trenches, enhancing the run defense and adding a top-tier linebacker in Bobby Okereke.
The Giants’ defense has improved considerably this offseason, but there are still moves they could make to further enhance the unit. Specifically, capitalizing on struggling players with potential is always a positive strategy. Schoen signed several free agents to incentive-based deals, using these contracts to maximize each player’s performance.
The Giants aren’t afraid to trade for upside:
Clearly, the Giants’ GM is not averse to employing a similar approach through trades, as evidenced by the acquisition of Darren Waller for a third-round pick. Waller has had injury concerns in the past, but he is an elite talent and one of the best tight ends in football when healthy. Schoen could attempt a similar move with Arizona Cardinals linebacker Isaiah Simmons, who was once a draft target for the Giants and ultimately selected 8th overall by Arizona in 2020.
Regarded as a defensive unicorn with remarkable versatility, Simmons had a respectable 2022 season. He played 897 total snaps, amassing 99 combined tackles, five tackles for loss, four quarterback hits, seven passes defended, and 4.0 sacks. He can deliver exceptional performances and provide strong coverage as a linebacker for a team in need.
The Giants lack a unicorn like Simmons, who could benefit from superior coaching to unlock his full potential. Martindale is undoubtedly regarded as one of the top defensive coaches in football, and having a player like Simmons on the roster would enable him to get creative. The 24-year-old linebacker recorded nine pressures last year, including 4.0 sacks, four quarterback hurries, and one hit. However, he did register an 11.7% missed tackle rate, the highest in his career.
Ultimately, Arizona is a team in rebuilding mode and is not expected to be competitive in 2023. Given this reality, the Giants may wish to capitalize on their situation and attempt to acquire a high-potential player entering his fourth year in the NFL.
The Giants would have Isaiah Simmons for one year:
The Cardinals have already declined Simmons’ fifth-year option, so the Giants would have him under contract for one year, possibly extending him if desired. There’s an argument to make that waiting until the trade deadline would reduce his cost and ensure he’s healthy when acquired — a way to keep the cost down and still add a player of his upside to the roster. However, you lose the time necessary to properly install him into the system.
Considering Arizona only has one year left of control on his deal before he becomes a free agent, he likely would not be expensive to acquire. A mid-round selection from the 2024 NFL draft might suffice, adding an extraordinary athlete to the heart of the defense and a player capable of fulfilling various roles.
For Martindale, this scenario is a dream come true, and with proper coaching, Simmons could become something truly exceptional.