All is not wrong with Landon Collins and the Giants, but all is not copacetic, either. There remains a solid chance he is back with the team that drafted him in 2015, but at the moment, the talented safety is not happy with the lack of negotiations on a new contract and the looming franchise tag, which is likely to be slapped on him in the coming days.
No player wants to play a season under the franchise tag, as it denies long-term security and the chance to shop himself to the rest of the league. Collins wants to remain with the Giants on his terms, with a multi-year contract that will make him one of the NFL’s highest-paid players at his position, or else hit the free-agent market and shop himself.
An ESPN report Wednesday stated Collins “cleaned out his locker’’ and said his goodbyes to teammates coaches and trainers. When The Post reported Collins’ locker, in fact, was not cleaned out, Collins took to Twitter to say, “The stuff in that locker that I have left I do not need.’’
Collins was on the premises rehabbing his surgically repaired left shoulder. Clearly, Collins removed personal belongings from his locker before leaving the team facility, as he might not be back for quite some time. This is not unusual for a player without a contract.
This is often the way it works this time of year — urgency is felt by the player but not the team. The Giants have until March 5 to put the franchise tag on Collins, which would assure him of about $11.2 million for the 2019 season and essentially keep him from hitting free agency. If a team wanted to sign him, they would have to forfeit two first-round picks to the Giants — a cost no team will pay.
Agents and players typically voice their disapproval with this scenario, as the team holds most of the leverage — once they tag a player, the team has until July 15 to come up with a multi-year extension. Collins likely wants it out there he will not sit back and happily sign the franchise tag.
Collins in the past expressed his concerns about playing on the franchise tag and softened that stance the day after the Giants closed out their 5-11 season, saying, “Would I play on it? I’ve got no choice. But it’s not a big concern of mine. I know what I’m capable of. Hopefully we work something out before that. If not, the franchise it is. I’ve just got to continue proving myself.’’
There is not much recourse for Collins. He could refuse to sign the franchise tag and stay away from all voluntary work in the spring. Jason Pierre-Paul took this approach two years ago before signing the tag and eventually receiving a lucrative new contract. A source of frustration for Collins is that the Giants have yet to open up negotiations for a new deal. This is in keeping with how the Giants, and most teams in the league, go about their business when they have the fallback position of the franchise tag to hold over a player.
The franchise tag is usually used as a place-holder by teams to buy time, keep one of their significant players off the market while the team considers a long-term deal after working through free agency and the draft.
Collins, 25, believes he has already proven himself deserving of big money, with three Pro Bowl selections in four seasons. The highest-paid safety in the league is Eric Berry of the Chiefs at $13 million per year. Collins made $6.1 million on his original four-year rookie deal.