- Landon Collins is now the highest-paid safety in the NFL, thanks to a massive deal with the Washington Redskins.
Conor Orr is writing up grades for every major NFL free agency signing here. Below is his grade for new Redskins safety Landon Collins.
Landon Collins, S
From: New York Giants
To: Washington Redskins
Contract: Six years, $84 million ($45 million guaranteed)
Breakdown: Holy moly. Landon Collins had a market and it shows. The versatile safety leapfrogs Eric Berry as the highest paid safety in the NFL, and in the process, he may be scaring the pants off teams who may be wondering what a 30-year-old Earl Thomas costs.
On one hand, Washington should be commended—this is one of the best free agents on the market, and since the team is (presumably) building around a ground control team helmed by Case Keenum, it will want a complementary defense capable of multiple looks, and aggressively forcing turnovers.
In that way, Collins is ideal. He can hold down almost an outside linebacker-type spot and contains the run fairly well. Perhaps Washington is viewing him as a younger, stronger version of Patrick Chung who can be the centerpiece of this unit.
The downside is that the team is spending $14 million a year on a safety. Perhaps Washington will do a delayed release of some of their veterans who don’t have any guarantees left on their contracts and generate more cap room that way, but on a team with so many needs, is this the best allocation of funds? To my earlier point, maybe you view the $14 million as befitting of a guy who plays two positions fairly well—and really, maybe that’s the way the NFL will have to view many of these hybrid safeties as the position becomes more essential to modern defenses (much like Les Snead had to view Todd Gurley as more than a running back, and why Le’Veon Bell held out for an entire season).
On the opening day of free agency, there probably wasn’t a signing that resonates more with the greater football world. Collins gets a chance to face his old team—one that apparently made him so upset that he cleaned out his locker just before franchise tag season—twice in 2019 and becomes the next big-ticket free agent hoping to make Washington’s defense (and team in general) relevant again in the postseason.
This is a big move, and it reminds us that just because a team doesn’t have a boatload of cap space doesn’t mean they won’t be active.