The New York Giants have decided not to use the franchise or transition tag on impending free agent safety Landon Collins, meaning he will become an unrestricted free agent at 4:00 p.m. on March 13 when the new NFL year begins.
Many expected the Giants to apply the franchise tag on Collins, but general manager Dave Gettleman slowed everyone’s roll at the NFL Combine with a stark non-committal when asked about Collins’ future with the club.
“We’re still evaluating,” Gettleman said. “Like Pat says, you always want good players on your team. Here’s what everybody has to understand — you’ve got 53 players on your club and you’ve got a salary cap. You don’t have 53 silos. Decisions like this can’t be made in a vacuum. You can’t do it. So, it’s a process.”
Gettleman’s opinion of Collins obviously differs from the general public’s. Last year at the trade deadline, there were reports that the Giants were shopping Collins but teams did not meet their price, which supposedly was a second-round pick.
Applying the franchise tag to Collins would have cost the Giants $11.15 million towards the salary cap this season. With just $26.2 million in available cap space to work with this year (providing they stand pat), that was a big ticket item Gettleman felt he could not afford.
The word is that Collins would have held out had the Giants tagged him, which is no big deal since he probably won’t be medically cleared for duty until training camp anyhow.
The 25-year-old three-time Pro Bowler has led the Giants in tackles in each of his four seasons in East Rutherford and started his first 47 games in Blue before missing the 2017 season finale with a broken forearm.
This past year saw Collins play the first 12 games before injuring his shoulder in the Giants’ Week 14 overtime victory over the Chicago Bears, causing him to placed on injured reserve, ending his season. The injury was diagnosed as a torn labrum which was surgically repaired in mid-December.
Collins departure via free agency does have a silver lining of sorts. The Giants are likely to be awarded a third-round compensatory selection in next year’s draft, but that process is not an exact science as we found out this year.
Gettleman has never held defensive backs in high regard. As productive as Collins is, he had his weaknesses as well. He is a true box safety and was sub-par in coverage. Perhaps Gettleman saw him for what he truly was — a fifth linebacker.
This draft is loaded with defensive players and the Giants can replace Collins’ box production with a true linebacker, such as LSU standout Devin White, and find themselves a pair of safeties that have a more balanced skill set.
Perhaps the clincher here was the shoulder injury. Collins is a very active tackler and he needs that shoulder to be 100% in order to play up to his normal standard. Since his rehab and recovery period was listed at 4-6 months after the surgery.
The Giants — and other teams — are going to want make sure Collins is 100 percent healthy before entering into any long-term financial commitment. It’s just bad business to not perform the due diligence here.
Collins himself appears ready to move on….
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