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Cardinals, Isaiah Simmons Split Was Best for Both Sides

The divorce between the Arizona Cardinals and Isaiah Simmons was coming for what felt like an eternity.

The NFL - often times for players - stands for "Not For Long" when opportunities come knocking and you don't take advantage of them, and now former Arizona Cardinals safety Isaiah Simmons is the latest example. 

It wasn't long ago when Simmons was considered one of the darlings of his draft class coming out of Clemson. His rare blend of size, length and speed made him a versatile chess piece that could be deployed everywhere but defensive tackle on the field. 

It's not often a prospect is generally seen as "can't miss" when taken, yet that was the exact feeling Cardinals fans had when then-GM Steve Keim turned the pick in and made Simmons a top ten selection in the 2020 NFL Draft. 

There was hope to fix errors of the past with players such as Haason Reddick, once drafted in similar feelings but played out of position by Arizona and eventually succeeded outside of the desert. 

Simmons played positions such as inside linebacker, nickel corner and now safety before being traded in fairly shocking fashion to the New York Giants for a seventh-round pick (physical pending). 

It's a move that simply made sense for both sides.

For the Cardinals, the new regime of general manager Monti Ossenfort and head coach Jonathan Gannon have clearly been prioritizing the future ahead of immediate success. That was evident in moves made during the offseason through free agency, the 2023 NFL Draft and even afterwards. 

That again continued this week with Simmons' trade, a clear sign that Arizona didn't believe in the Clemson product and his ability to carve out a role in the desert moving forward. After bouncing around through different positions, the new staff tried utilizing Simmons as a safety (per his request). 

Through training camp and two preseason games, the Cardinals didn't like what they saw both in terms of play and effort. Simmons was again burnt toast in coverage and simply gave up on a few plays in the loss vs. Kansas City. 

A message was sent by the staff: It simply does not matter where you were drafted or how fast you run. If you do not play at a high level, you are expendable. 

There's been a constant theme established by players and coaches over the summer in terms of a "culture shock" in Arizona. Sometimes words don't have actions that follow through, but Simmons' flight to New York for a physical is proof that the Cardinals are indeed molding themselves differently moving forward. 

For Simmons, he's entering a contract year with plenty of money riding on his future in 2023. Not bouncing back and playing well after years of struggling will hurt his chances of snagging that coveted big payday next offseason - we've seen his trade value take a massive hit after being dealt for next to nothing. 

Sometimes you just need a fresh start, and now Simmons finds himself heading to New York to play for defensive coordinator Wink Martindale, notorious for being a mastermind that can maximize the skill sets of his players. 

Simmons will reportedly play linebacker for the Giants, a position that he recently told Cardinals media he didn't want to play, though he would if asked. If anything could help Simmons hit his potential, perhaps the familiarity of already having pro reps at linebacker - under the guidance of a certified DC in Martindale - will propel him. 

Many of the traits teams coveted Simmons for still exist. He's still plenty quick with a long frame and can be deployed in numerous spots. 

Yet he's only been potential and nothing more here in Arizona. A fresh start was needed, and now he lands on a talented Giants squad fresh off a playoff appearance. Though it's far too early to make any declarations, Simmons' chances of bouncing back were likely better elsewhere. 

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