Giants botched Landon Collins situation and it could sting more now that he'll be in Washington

Senior NFL writer
Yahoo Sports

It’s not quite like Marcus Allen signing with the Kansas City Chiefs, Brett Favre signing with the Minnesota Vikings or even Walder Frey siding with the Lannisters — yes, a “Game of Thrones” reference! — but on the Spite Level Index, Landon Collins’ decision to sign with Washington Redskins registers a solid 7 out of 10.

In the aftermath of the decision, which came within four hours of the start of the NFL’s legal tampering period on Monday, instead of seeing how the move immediately helps Washington, many were caught up in the numbers of the six-year, $84 million deal.

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Landon Collins got a big pay raise this offseason and is headed to Washington on a deal that reportedly guarantees him $45 million. (Getty Images)
Landon Collins got a big pay raise this offseason and is headed to Washington on a deal that reportedly guarantees him $45 million. (Getty Images)

And to be sure, the money — which includes $45 million guaranteed ($16 million more than Chiefs safety Eric Berry, the former highest-paid safety, got two years ago) — is significant, so much so that other defensive backs on the verge of getting paid (like Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey) were doing everything short of a collective HCBU-style “Swag-Surf” on Twitter in the aftermath of it.

Collins does his best work around the line of scrimmage. His box safety skills aren’t as valuable in today’s pass-centric game as a rangy center-fielder like Earl Thomas, so it’ll be up to Redskins defensive coordinator Greg Manusky to get the most value out of that contract.

It won’t be easy, but it’s possible. After all, Collins just turned 25 in January. That means that, at the very least, the Redskins will have a strong locker room leader — Collins was a team captain last season — who has at least four more prime seasons remaining.

The Redskins might have overpaid for Collins but it doesn’t mean the Giants are better off letting him walk. The fact the Redskins felt strongly enough about Collins to make him the game’s highest-paid safety (despite his classification as a box safety) is an indictment of how badly the Giants botched this situation.

If Washington felt Collins, a former first-team All-Pro, was worth this much, you mean to tell me Giants general manager Dave Gettleman couldn’t have gotten a draft pick or picks for the guy at the trade deadline last year? The GM didn’t escape social media ribbing from the Redskins’ Josh Norman, who had a massive falling out with Gettleman while they were in Carolina which resulted in Norman hitting the free-agent market and landing a big deal in Washington.

It’s not like the Giants were contending. They were 1-7 at the time, and they must have known that Collins was not an ideal fit for what they were trying to do defensively, especially compared to the money he’d command on the open market. If that’s the case, why didn’t they deal Collins for at least a third-round pick in this year’s draft — the equivalent of the compensatory pick they’ll receive next year for letting him walk, provided they don’t make any big moves in free agency this month — and get on with the business of building the type of defense the Giants want?

Yet, when the Chiefs made a call on Collins before the deadline, the Giants weren’t terribly interested in moving him, a source told Yahoo Sports last October.

Yikes.

The Giants could have also prevented this fiasco by franchising Collins last week. Given the mammoth deal he secured in free agency, the one-year, $11 million tag would have been a relative bargain.

Also, by refusing to trade or franchise Collins, a young asset in his prime, Gettleman opened himself up to criticism about his aging quarterback, Eli Manning, and the fact the Giants will have him on the roster at $23 million next season instead of Collins for half that. I won’t abide by a Manning vs. Collins scenario, though; Eli is a Giants legend, and statistically, his numbers last season weren’t bad. But what I don’t understand is why the Giants, who currently have about $25 million in cap room (and creative NFL teams can always create more), couldn’t have both players.

An argument can be made that the best thing the Giants could have done is bring both back, draft a quarterback in the first round — and yes, I love Dwayne Haskins for them — and let the youngster sit on the bench behind Eli this season and learn.

That’s a scenario that could have put the Giants in position to retain both men, and potentially light a fire under the 38-year-old Manning, similar to what happened to Alex Smith in Kansas City, who had a career season in 2017 once the team moved up to take Patrick Mahomes. Given Manning’s history, it’s reasonable to think there’s a chance that happens.

Alas. The Giants just let a 25-year-old former All-Pro walk out the door for a likely, but uncertain, third-round pick a year from now … and to their division rival, no less. No matter how much Collins is being paid, no matter whether you think he’s worth it, one thing’s for certain: the Giants could have, and should have, handled this better.

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