Sometimes there are no right answers. Such is the case of safety Landon Collins, who is suddenly headed for unrestricted free agency after the New York Giants declined to place the franchise or transition tag on him this week.
General manager Dave Gettleman has a reputation for cutting ties with popular players when they no longer suit his vision. It actually cost him his job as general manager of the Carolina Panthers.
This is evident in the Collins situation as well. Letting Collins walk is a controversial and unpopular move by the Giants. The three-time Pro Bowler has been one of the few bright spots on this dismal team the past several seasons.
Giants fans and beat reporters are lambasting Gettleman on social media. Decorum prohibits us from posting most of these distasteful entries, but you can imagine the vitriol being spewed after the Giants made the decision to allow Collins to become an unrestricted free agent come March 13.
This is classic Gettleman. He dances to a different beat. He doesn’t value the safety position as much as he does others, but there are many other factors that likely led to this decision.
First, Collins is coming off a serious injury. He underwent surgery to repair a torn labrum in December, and his projected rehab is six months. The Giants don’t know if he’ll even be healthy enough to participate in their offseason program and training camp.
Second, Collins has said he would consider holding out if the Giants applied the tag. That would lead to a distraction the team does not wish to go through as there are too many other subplots to deal with this offseason.
Third, Collins — as good as he is — is not an ideal fit for the Giants defense. He is the classic box safety who is not strong in pass coverage. He can technically be called their fifth linebacker. The Giants feel they need a more well-rounded player at strong safety.
Lastly, New York has very little salary cap room to operate with. At last count, they have just $26.2 million in available cap space. Tagging Collins would reduce that number to $15.1 million.
There are other moves coming for sure to open up cap space, but until they happen, the Giants are cap-strapped and Gettleman has vowed to put his stamp on this team. Collins was acquired by former general manager Jerry Reese, and Gettleman appears to be hell-bent on ridding himself of many of Reese’s draft picks.
Still, the Giants should have found a way to keep Collins. They have mismanaged the cap for years, and the wrong people are paying the price.