The Giants should bring back this linebacker in free agency

Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) is sacked by New York Giants safety Isaiah Simmons (19) during the fourth quarter at MetLife Stadium
Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants spent heavily to upgrade their roster on the first day of free agency. They made a blockbuster trade to upgrade their pass rush with Brian Burns and bolstered their offensive line with a couple of other key free-agent signings.

Now the Giants are filling out the depth on their roster with more low-key signings, like Jalen Mills and Isaiah McKenzie. One position they need to be careful not to overlook is linebacker. The Giants had quality depth at linebacker for the first time in a long time in 2023. They need to make sure they do not take that for granted and maintain the depth they had by re-signing LB Isaiah Simmons this offseason.

Why the Giants should re-sign LB Isaiah Simmons

In 2023, linebacker duo Bobby Okereke and Micah McFadden emerged as one of the Giants’ biggest bright spots. Both players had breakout campaigns and developed into the lifeline of the team’s defensive unit. But alongside Okereke and McFadden was Simmons, who the Giants acquired via trade at the end of the preseason.

The former Arizona Cardinals first-round pick settled into a more refined depth role this season with New York. Simmons played the lowest snap total of his career (377 snaps, 33%) since his rookie season (376 snaps, 34%), but played his lessened role well and managed to grow into a reliable talent for Big Blue.

Simmons finished the season with 50 combined tackles, two tackles for loss, and one sack. He also added one forced fumble, one fumble recovery, and one interception which he took back 54 yards for a game-sealing touchdown against the Washington Commanders in Week 11.

READ MORE: What the Giants’ offensive line will look like in 2024

Simmons played a particular role in the Giants’ defense last season

The Giants lessened Simmons’ role as a safety, as he had been playing frequently in Arizona. They had him play more in the box as an outside linebacker, primarily on the field for coverage snaps. He was on the field for 203 coverage snaps compared to only 84 run defense snaps and 91 pass rush snaps, per Pro Football Focus.

Simmons played well in coverage, letting up only 199 yards on 22 completions with zero touchdowns surrendered when his matchup was targeted. His efforts earned him a career-high 82.7 PFF coverage grade on the season.

The Giants refined Simmons’ role and turned him into a rotational player, only seeing the field in specific personnel packages during obvious-passing situations. This resulted in him taking a major step forward in coverage and adding flexibility and depth to the Giants’ linebacker corps. They would be wise to maintain that depth and re-sign Simmons to a cost-effective contract extension this offseason.

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