The Giants valued Landon Collins as a very good player. The Redskins obviously see greatness in him, as they agreed to terms Monday on the richest NFL contract ever for a safety, ensuring Collins stays within the NFC East and gets to face his former team twice a season.
The franchise tag of $11.15 million the Giants could have applied to Collins certainly feels like a distant memory, considering how he cashed in entering his first go-round in NFL free agency. He will sign a six-year, $84 million contract, according to multiple reports, with a staggering $45 million in guaranteed money in the first three years. The average of $14 million is the highest ever for a safety, surpassing Eric Berry’s $13 million per year from the Chiefs.
Collins breaking the bank could prove problematic to the Giants if it raises the bar for all the safeties about to flood the market, as the Giants need starters at strong and free safety and general manager Dave Gettleman has no track record of shelling out big bucks at the position.
Down the road a bit, the Giants do not mind seeing the massive contract dished out to Collins, as it will help in the configurations to determine the 2019 compensatory draft pick they get back for losing him. Figure it will be a third-round pick, based on the price tag.
The Redskins are no strangers to bestowing riches on free agents but even by their standards, this deal is a doozy. Collins, though, has a more-than credible résumé and is only 25 years old. He was selected to the Pro Bowl in three of his four years with the Giants and started 47 of 48 games in his first three seasons.
Collins started 12 games in 2018 before landing on injured reserve and missing the final four games with a partially torn labrum that required surgery to repair. Still, Collins is the only player in the NFL with more than 400 tackles and more than 30 passes defensed since 2015.
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Berry has a six-year, $78 million deal with the Chiefs, with $40 million in guaranteed money. There was not much expectation Collins would topple that financial threshold for safeties, but he did. He wears No. 21 as homage to the late Sean Taylor and now joins the team Taylor starred for before his tragic death in 2007.
The Giants never opened serious negotiations with Collins, even though he was named a defensive captain last season. They were offered a 2019 fourth-round draft pick for Collins at the trade deadline last year but declined to make a move with him, even though they shipped out defensive tackle Damon “Snacks’’ Harrison and cornerback Eli Apple in trades.
Collins was named an All-Pro after his breakthrough 2016 season but did not attain those heights again the next two years and struggled in coverage and did not thrive in defensive coordinator James Bettcher’s system. Last season, Collins lined up deep on only 109 of his 804 snaps, according to Pro Football Focus, with the bulk of his snaps (549) coming in the box or on the line of scrimmage.
The value the Giants assigned to Collins is vastly different than how the Redskins view him. Twice a season, Collins will face the Giants and look to take down Saquon Barkley and run with Evan Engram. The results will determine which team is more correct in its assessment of Landon Collins.