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Giants Let Landon Collins Walk After Not Using Franchise Tag

It appeared to be a foregone conclusion based off general manager Dave Gettleman’s press conference last week at the NFL Scouting Combine. Now, it’s official.

According to NFL insider Ian Rapoport, the New York Giants have informed safety Landon Collins on Tuesday that they will not be placing the franchise tag on him, officially making him a free agent.

How the Giants/Collins Got Here

Gettleman stressed at the aforementioned presser that the team had to look at their salary cap when deciding on signing some players. For Collins, placing the tag on him would cost $11.15 million against the cap. Even if they had done so, Collins was expected to hold out until either the beginning of the regular season, or until New York offered him a long-term contract extension.

So, what caused the Giants front office to reach this conclusion? Well, according to ESPN’s Dianna Russini, some in the organization felt that Collins’ skills in pass defense did not warrant a big money contract.

For Collins, who is 25-years old, he’s expected to garner a big market, especially for contending teams that are in need for an upgrade at the secondary position. Teams such as the Kansas City Chiefs (reunion with Steve Spagnuolo) and Indianapolis Colts make sense as potential suitors.

Let’s not forget that the Chiefs and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers made trade proposals for Collins at the trade deadline, one of whom offered a third-round pick to the Giants. Instead, New York opted to keep him on the roster, as they wanted a second-rounder and a late round pick in return. Now, he walks, and the Giants will likely earn a 2020 compensatory pick.

Throughout his four-year (59 game) career, Collins has recorded 437 tackles, 32 passes defensed, eight interceptions, and three forced fumbles. Collins is a three-time Pro Bowler (2016-18), 2016 First Team All-Pro, and came in third place in the 2016 NFL Defensive Player of the Year awards. More importantly, Collins was a leader, not only on the field, but in the locker room.

Salary Cap Issues

As for the Giants, they will now have to answer a lot of questions as to why they would allow Collins to walk out of their locker room to sign with another team. The team stressed their cap issues, but you have to look at two contracts that would have made re-signing Collins easier: Eli Manning and Olivier Vernon.

Manning is 38-years old and has one year remaining on his current deal. Head coach Pat Shurmur told the media that Manning will be the starter this upcoming season, while Gettleman stressed the importance of the “Kansas City model” in which a rookie signal caller would sit behind and learn from the veteran. However, a $23.2 million cap hit is a hefty price for Manning to play the mentors role this season.

Then there’s Vernon, New York’s stronger pass rushers, who has had difficulties staying on the field. Recent reports have indicated that he’s now on the trading block. Even if another team wants to acquire him, the Giants wouldn’t receive an ideal return. Vernon is owed $15.2 million this year, and accounts for $19.5 million against the cap. A trade would likely net New York late round picks, and that’s if the other team takes on his contract. Opting to release Vernon outright would have saved them the $19.5 million in cap space, and likely could have saved money to retain a player of Collins’ services.

With Collins officially a former member of the Giants, Gettleman just saw the pressure to win now increase to staggering levels. Even with Earl Thomas and Tyrann Mathieu on the open market, it’s going to be hard for New York to find a suitable replacement considering their “cap-woes.”

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General Editor and New York Giants Lead Writer.
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