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What should the Giants do about Isaiah Simmons?

Should they try to keep the free agent linebacker, or let him move on?

Philadelphia Eagles v New York Giants
Isaiah Simmons
Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images

Figuring out whether the New York Giants should keep free-agent-to-be ‘linebacker’ Isaiah Simmons is complicated by the reality that we don’t know how or if new defensive coordinator Shane Bowen would like to utilize him.

Simmons is an athletic, useful player. He is not, though, an every down player. Nor is he going to be a fit for every defensive scheme, or every defensive coordinator. So, Bowen’s defensive plan will have a direct impact on whether or not the Giants try to keep Simmons in East Rutherford, N.J.

Reasons to keep Simmons

The Giants acquire the former No. 8 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft for a seventh-round pick before the season began, and he did some good things for the Giants in a limited role.

Used primarily on passing downs, sometimes as a rusher and often as a pass defender, Simmons played 377 snaps, or 33% of the Giants’ defensive snaps. He finished with 50 tackles, just one sack and one quarterback hit, along with an interception he returned for a game-clinching touchdown.

Simmons played 137 snaps as an outside linebacker, 166 as an inside linebacker, 65 as a slot cornerback, 8 as a wide cornerback and 2 as a free safety, per Pro Football Focus. He was used 203 times in coverage, 91 as a pass rusher and just 84 times in run defense. As a pass defender, he had a career-best 77.2 passer rating against.

When Simmons was in Arizona, the Cardinals struggled for three seasons to figure out the right way to deploy him. Having a proper plan for him is critical.

Reasons to let him go

Simmons really isn’t big enough or physical enough to be a full-time outside linebacker. He doesn’t defend the run well enough to be relied on at either inside or outside linebacker on run downs. He’s athletic, but not instinctive.

Simmons isn’t a full-time player or every coordinator’s cup of tea. If he doesn’t fit what Bowen wants to do, then the Giants should spent their money elsewhere.

The verdict

This depends entirely on how Bowen views Simmons. When Joe Schoen acquired Simmons, he first went to Martindale to see if the coordinator wanted Simmons and could come up with a workable plan for using him. Schoen and the Giants need to treat his free agency the same way. If Bowen has a viable plan for him, great. If Bowen isn’t sure how Simmons fits into his defense, move on.