- Landon Collins’s skill set and versatility makes him a prime free agent target for teams that need safety help, assuming the Giants don’t tag him first.
Throughout the next several weeks, we’ll be assessing the market on some of the best free agents set to come available on March 14. Beyond scheme fit, these decisions will be impacted by available finances, team thoughts on current draft prospects and perception of value vs. actual value. We’ll try and parse through those ideas here.
Player: Landon Collins
2018 Salary: $1,947,450
2018 Statistics: 96 total tackles, four passes defensed, five tackles for loss, two QB hits
Why he’s a top-tier free agent: Should the NFL continue going on its current trajectory, players like Collins will become essential for nearly every defense. He’s big enough and physical enough to handle some larger blockers, and he’s fast enough and aware enough to handle himself in the secondary. He’s not out of place in an outside linebacker role—almost Patrick Chung-esque—and can be a punishing run defender. Collins has already played in a few different schemes, including James Bettcher’s versatile defense. Entering free agency, it’s good to be a player who can fit anywhere, and it’s even better to be someone like Collins, who has gotten better each season after a difficult rookie year.
Risks involved: Collins has missed just five games in four seasons, most of which came after a labrum tear at the end of last season which cost him almost the entire month of December. He was also wrapped up in some trade discussions during the deadline, though that forever game of semantics comes into play—was he a person the Giants felt was expendable, or was he an asset who was simply garnering interest at a higher level than his perceived value?
Market prospects: If I were the Giants, I’d make sure Collins was tagged minute one. This makes the most sense for a team looking at a player coming off a fairly significant surgery. New York doesn’t have a ton of cap space to work with, so the projected $12 million figure may be a little daunting; however, it’s better than creating another field of contractual landmines to walk through. The Giants have done well to emerge from the end of the Jerry Reese era with some financial flexibility, giving them the ability to still be competitive on the free agent market like they were last year. That won’t be as much of a luxury this year, but the path to “Shopping at Tiffany’s,” to borrow a phrase from general manager Dave Gettleman’s Carolina days, doesn’t seem to include a long-term deal for a safety coming off shoulder surgery. It’s probably also advantageous for Collins, who, while near the top (one could argue at the top) of a great safety market, may have a hard time finding a fair deal amid the crowded field. Earl Thomas will also garner some attention. Adrian Amos, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Tyrann Mathieu and Glover Quinn are also available.
Potential destinations: Giants, Lions, Cowboys, Packers, Raiders
Eric Berry, Chiefs: Six years, $78 million / $13 million APY / $40 million, total guarantee
Reshad Jones, Dolphins: Five years, $60 million / $12 million APY / $33 million, total guarantee
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