Landon Collins

NFC East Notes: Elliott, Eagles, Redskins

The Cowboys‘ strategy of prioritizing extension for Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper over Ezekiel Elliott have seemingly influenced the two-time rushing champion to consider a holdout. While Elliott is signed through the 2020 season and can be controlled on a 2021 franchise tag, a path the Cowboys appear to be pondering, Jason Fitzgerald of OverTheCap tweets the team’s best move would be to extend Elliott now in order to have the remaining $12.9MM on his contract become part of the extension’s guarantee structure. The Cowboys should structure a deal that would enable them to cut bait after the first year of the extension, which if done now would be 2021, Fitzgerald adds (on Twitter). That would be unlikely to happen if Elliott heads into 2020 without an extension. Having not yet met the service-time requirements for free agency, Elliott must report to the Cowboys by Aug. 6. This gives the team considerable leverage against a 2019 holdout. A 2020 holdout would become more complicated.

With the NFC East teams wrapping up their offseasons, here is the latest out of this division:

  • Several Redskins players missed out on some cash this offseason. By either not showing up, in Trent Williams‘ case, to the offseason program (or failing to be there for 90% of it), Williams, Josh Norman, Landon Collins, Paul Richardson, Quinton Dunbar and Vernon Davis missed out on some bonus cash, Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets. Norman led the way on this front, seeing $200K docked from his 2019 salary. Collins was docked $175K, with Williams and Richardson down $150K.
  • Staying with Washington, their free safety job still figures to be Montae Nicholson‘s to lose, J.P. Finlay of NBC Sports Washington notes. This comes despite the Redskins suspending him in December, for an off-field arrest that resulted in dropped charges, and Jay Gruden expressing annoyance Nicholson missed the early portion of Redskins OTAs. Washington did not draft a safety, and Pro Football Focus graded Nicholson as its fifth-worst back-line defender last season. Still, Finlay expects the third-year player to have a major say in who starts alongside Collins.
  • Jordan Howard, Miles Sanders and Corey Clement will be on the Eagles‘ 53-man roster, leaving recent draft picks Wendell Smallwood, Josh Adams and Donnel Pumphrey in danger of the waiver wire. Despite the Eagles investing in each of these players out of college, Saints 2018 sixth-round pick Boston Scott looks like the early favorite to be the Eagles’ fourth running back, Dave Zangaro of NBC Sports Philadelphia writes. Possessing a Darren Sproles-type physique at 5-foot-6 and 203 pounds, Scott has yet to take a regular-season handoff. But his experience as a punt returner may give him the edge, per Zangaro. Adams (511 yards) and Smallwood (364) were Philadelphia’s two leading rushers last season.
  • The Giants will join the Eagles in having a project offensive lineman in camp. After Philly drafted tackle Jordan Mailata in last year’s seventh round, the Giants signed college shot putter Austin Droogsma. The Giants signed Droogsma, who last played football as a high-schooler 2012, in May and will try the 6-4, 345-pound track convert as a guard, Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com notes. While at Florida State, Droogsma won the 2018 ACC indoor and outdoor titles and finished both seasons as an All-American. Mailata, a rugby standout, spent most of last season on the Eagles’ practice squad; the Giants’ P-squad would seem like the best-case scenario for Droogsma in 2019.

Giants Never Made Offer To Landon Collins

The Giants had 14-plus months of exclusive negotiating rights with Landon Collins. Although his contract came up in reports in that span, no serious negotiations were reported to have commenced.

Collins took that a step further, indicating (via NJ.com’s Ryan Dunleavy) the Giants did not make him an offer.

I wanted to be one of those guys to finish his career on one team,” Collins said. “They didn’t give me the opportunity to do that. It’s a business. I can’t do anything about that. … They never made an offer. I knew when they were about to trade me how it was going to go. Very, very eye-opening.”

Trade offers, one from the Buccaneers including a third-rounder, came in for Collins before the 2018 deadline. But the Giants stood pat. They then opted not to use their franchise tag, which would have meant an $11.15MM 2019 price, letting Collins hit free agency. His Redskins deal reset the safety market in a major way. Collins signed for $14MM per year; he and Tyrann Mathieu are now the league’s highest-paid safeties.

The Giants prioritized an Odell Beckham Jr. extension in 2018, doing so as Collins entered his contract year. Neither are part of the 2019 Giants. New York replaced Collins with Jabrill Peppers, acquired in that Beckham trade with the Browns.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Giants Notes: Collins, Rosen, Draft

Earlier this month, the Giants lost Landon Collins to the rival Redskins in free agency, meaning that they will get nothing more than a 2020 compensatory pick in exchange for one of the game’s best young safeties. Meanwhile, they had an opportunity to trade him prior to last year’s deadline, when they probably could have gotten something in the 2019 draft.

That leaves GM Dave Gettleman with some explaining to do, though he downplayed the previously received trade offers when speaking with reporters this week.

The rumor that we were offered a first-round draft pick isn’t even remotely accurate. … Did we have teams call? Yes. But at that point in time I didn’t think (the offers we got were) what he was worth,” Gettleman said (Twitter link via Ralph Vacchiano of SNY).

We don’t recall hearing that the Giants were offered a first-round pick for Collins last year, but we did recently learn that the Buccaneers offered a third-rounder before the deadline. The difference between a third-round pick in 2019 and a compensatory pick in 2020 might not sound like much, but there is definitely a value gap between a surefire pick in the immediate draft and a chance to receive a similarly slotted pick one year later.

Here’s more from New York:

  • Some in the Giants organization liked Cardinals quarterback Josh Rosen in the draft last year, but it sounds like he ranked third or fourth out of five first-round QBs on their board, Vacchiano hears. They could explore a trade for Rosen now, but their concern remains the same: Would Rosen’s personality play well in New York? Rosen has been known to be outspoken whereas Eli Manning has survived in the country’s No. 1 media market by staying controversy-free.
  • The Giants could take a QB at No. 6 overall, but Gettleman is not locked in on any signal caller the way in the same he was focused on Saquon Barkley in last year’s draft, according to Vacchiano. Instead, the Giants could target one of this year’s pass rushers with their first pick.

Contract Details: Collins, Morse, Graham

Let’s take a look at the details of a few recently-signed contracts from around the NFL:

  • Landon Collins, S (Redskins): Six years, $84MM deal, $45MM guaranteed. $15MM signing bonus, $6MM option bonus for 2024 (exercised between first and fifth of 2020). Deal includes $32MM guaranteed over the first two seasons. $5MM of his 2021 salary is guaranteed at signing. Salaries: $1MM (2019), $10MM (2020), $12.5MM (2021), $11.5MM (2022), $12.5MM (2023), $13.5MM (2024). All Twitter links via Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle, Mike Garafolo of NFL Network, and ESPN’s Dan Graziano.
  • Mitch Morse, C (Bills): Four years, $44.5MM, $26.5MM guaranteed (original story). Receives $19.5MM in 2019, $28.375MM in 2020. Twitter link via NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero.
  • Brandon Graham, DE (Eagles): Three years, $40MM. $23.5MM guaranteed. $12.5MM signing bonus. Salary: $1MM (2019), $10MM (2020). Team option for 2021: $13MM salary and $3.5MM option bonus. Twitter link via Sheil Kapadia of The Athletic.
  • Danny Amendola, WR (Lions): One year, $4.5MM. $4.25MM fully guaranteed. $250K in per-game roster bonuses, $1.25MM in incentives. Twitter link via Ben Volin of the Boston Globe.
  • Tyler Kroft, TE (Bills): Three years, $18.75MM. $8.3MM guaranteed, $2.4MM signing bonus. Will earn $1.8MM salary in 2019, $4.45MM in 2020. Roster bonuses include $2.1MM (2019), $750K (2020), $750K (2021). Twitter links via Wilson and ESPN’s Mike Rodak.

Redskins To Sign Landon Collins

Landon Collins has agreed to sign with the Redskins (Twitter link via ESPN.com’s Josina Anderson). It’s a whopper of a contract: Collins will receive a six-year, $84MM deal with $45MM guaranteed to be paid out over the first three years, according to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (on Twitter). 

That’s an astronomical figure for a box safety and a huge change from last year’s safety market, which led to disappointing deals for big names such as Tyrann Mathieu. Many feared that the safety market would continue to stall, but things are looking up for the NFL’s last line of defense.

Up until this point, Collins spent his entire career with the rival Giants, a team that did not feel he was worthy of the franchise tag this offseason. Collins clashed with team brass over his contract and threatened to hold out, leading to his exit. The Giants ultimately preferred a shot at a 2020 third-round compensatory pick to keeping one of the game’s most talented young safeties.

Collins, a second-round pick in the 2015 draft, has been a full-time starter for the Giants since entering the league. A two-time Pro Bowler, Collins posted 96 tackles, four passes defensed, and a forced fumble in 2018 while grading as the NFL’s 39th-best safety, per Pro Football Focus.

The Redskins acquired safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix from the Packers last year, but his status is in limbo as an unrestricted free agent. Collins will solidify a group that has moved on from D.J. Swearinger and might not include Montae Nicholson.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Thomas, Rams, Collins

The Rams’ decision to sign Eric Weddle last week could have a ripple effect on the rest of the league. The Rams had been interested in signing fellow safety Earl Thomas, but will no longer be pursuing him after signing Weddle, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter link). Bob Condotta posted in a follow-up tweet that echoed what he had heard about Thomas and the Rams. Condotta also said the Cowboys, Chiefs, 49ers are “all thought now to be potential bidders for Thomas.” The 49ers have both been heavily linked to Thomas, and the Chiefs nearly traded for him last fall.

Elsewhere in the video Rapoport posted, he broke down the whole safety market. Unlike last year, where the safety market took very long to develop and seemingly nobody got paid, Rapoport expects big contracts to be flying left and right for safeties this time around. He also notes that the Redskins are expected to be interested in Landon Collins, who the Giants recently decided to let walk.

Here’s the latest from around the league on the night before free agency opens:

  • In addition to safeties, it should be a very active market for free agent pass-rushers. Premier defensive linemen like Khalil Mack and Aaron Donald are starting to get more than $20MM per year on deals and we should get used to that, writes former NFL agent and current CBS Sports analyst Joel Corry. “Mack and Donald should soon have company in the $20 million-per-year non-quarterback club”, Corry writes. Corry broke down the market for edge rushers, and has a bunch of interesting tidbits in the article that is well-worth a read. Notably, he thinks Demarcus Lawrence could challenge and surpass the record-setting deals signed by Von Miller and Aaron Donald.
  • In case you were yearning for a Chad Kelly update, we’ve got one. The former Ole Miss star was released by the Broncos back in November after he was arrested following an incident after Von Miller’s Halloween party. He’s been out of a job ever since, but he appeared in court again last week. The young quarterback pleaded not guilty to the felony criminal trespassing charges he’s facing, according to Charean Williams of ProFootballTalk.com. He’ll be back in court in April, but it sounds like he’s fighting the case rather than accepting a plea deal. He’ll likely face discipline from the league if a team decides to give him another chance.
  • In case you missed it, despite rumors to the contrary, Dion Lewis is safe in Tennessee.

NFC East Notes: Giants, Cowboys, Brown

With Landon Collins and Olivier Vernon out of the picture, the Giants‘ defense has plenty of needs. Second-year GM Dave Gettleman has also jettisoned Jason Pierre-Paul, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Eli Apple and Damon Harrison from the team since taking over. Collins’ reputation as a box safety, albeit one of the best in the NFL, looks to have played into the Giants’ reasoning for refusing to use an $11MM-plus franchise tag on him, with Ralph Vacchiano of SNY noting the team did not always believe the All-Pro defender was an adequate cover man. Gettleman considered the contracts handed out to both Pierre-Paul and Harrison as onerous, and Vacchiano adds neither Pro Bowl player was viewed as a plus locker room presence. That said, the Giants have one of the least talented defenses in the NFL, boasting deficiencies at nearly every spot going into free agency. It would seem that would be where Gettleman looks to improve in the next two months.

Here is more out of the Big Apple and the latest from the NFC East:

  • While the Giants already have two monster contracts on their offensive line now, having acquired Kevin Zeitler‘s $12MM-AAV deal, they are going to pursue a right tackle in free agency. Big Blue will “almost certainly” add a right tackle on the market, per Vacchiano, who adds former Gettleman draftee Daryl Williams may be a top target. Williams was a fourth-round Gettleman pick in 2015 but is coming off an injury-nullified season. The Giants tried to sign former Gettleman find Andrew Norwell last year, so Williams will be a name to monitor in the coming days.
  • Sean Lee‘s Cowboys restructure will slash his 2019 salary from $7MM to $3.5MM, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. Although Lee has seen younger linebackers replace him as Dallas’ go-to second-level defenders, the Cowboys will keep the veteran around. One season remains on Lee’s contract.
  • If the Raiders are now the team to beat regarding Antonio Brown, the Eagles should not be completely discounted. Philadelphia is the other destination CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora is hearing in the Brown sweepstakes as of Saturday (Twitter link). The Eagles have been hard at work clearing cap space; they are north of $24MM now — before Michael Bennett‘s $6.2MM salary comes off their books. It would be interesting to see the team clear so much off its roster to add a player who has produced so much drama, but the Eagles have not been averse to splash moves in recent years.
  • Connected to a safety upgrade for many months, the Cowboys may opt to seek second-tier options at this position. Extensions for their homegrown standouts may price the Cowboys out of the high-end safeties on this year’s market, Josina Anderson of ESPN.com tweets. The Cowboys remain connected to Earl Thomas, and Richard Sherman said recently his former teammate would choose Dallas if the offers were equal. Another report confirmed no discount was coming. But they may well not end up being equal, complicating this long-rumored partnership. But plenty of safety help will be available next week.

La Canfora’s Latest: Mathieu, Ravens, Bucs

While the Texans are attempting to retain Tyrann Mathieu, both the Ravens and Buccaneers have “serious interest” in the veteran defensive back, according to Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com. Baltimore just released fellow safety Eric Weddle on Tuesday, while Tampa Bay has been in need of secondary help for years. Mathieu inked a one-year, $7MM deal with Houston last year, but he’s expected to receive a significant raise on his next contract. Per La Canfora, Mathieu should be able to collect $24MM over the first two years of a new deal.

Here’s more from JLC:

  • Overall, the safety market is not expected to be as depressed as it was a year ago, when Mathieu, Eric Reid, Kenny Vaccaro, Tre Boston, and others were forced to settle for one-year pacts. Earl Thomas will set the market and is asking for $13MM annually, per La Canfora. Meanwhile, former Giants safety Landon Collins — now on the market after New York declined to franchise him — will likely come in below Thomas, and Bears defender Adrian Amos is searching for $9-10MM per year.
  • While there aren’t any clear-cut, No. 1 wideouts available this offseason, slot receivers are aplenty, and they should get paid, says JLC. Golden Tate is looking for $13MM per season, while Adam Humphries may be targeting $10MM annually and has already been deemed too expensive to return to the Buccaneers. Cole Beasley could also get $10MM per year, while John Brown wants $8-9MM per season.
  • Offensive tackle Daryl Williams is expected to reach the open market, and La Canfora reports Williams’ price has already “soared” above where the Panthers are comfortable paying. Both the Bills and Giants are expected to target Williams, and both connections make sense. Buffalo employs former Carolina staffer Brandon Beane as its general manager, while ex-Panthers GM Dave Gettleman is in charge in New York.
  • The Raiders have already been mentioned as a potential suitor for Chargers receiver Tyrell Williams, and the Colts could also join the fray, per La Canfora. Williams is expected to earn more than $12MM per year on his new deal.

Safety Notes: Weddle, Mathieu, Collins

In somewhat of a surprising sequence on Tuesday — some Ravens staffers were surprised by this move, per NFL.com’s Peter Schrager (on Twitter) — Eric Weddle is now a free agent. Although the 34-year-old safety said in January he would retire if he was not part of the 2019 Ravens, he backtracked on that. His stance remains to continue his career, according to Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram (on Twitter). On the heels of three Pro Bowl slates in Baltimore, Weddle stands to generate interest as a short-term fix. It will, however, be interesting to see how teams proceed at this position this year — after oddly brushing it aside in 2018. There are far more safeties available this year, giving this the feel of another buyers’ market.

Here is the latest from the safety marketplace:

  • One player whose market may be in better position than it was last year, Tyrann Mathieu will have options. The Texans are trying to re-sign the seventh-year safety, and this process has now produced a preliminary offer, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle tweets. Mathieu is believed to still want to remain in Houston, Wilson writes, and the parties have been linked to a reunion for months. But with less than a week until the legal tampering period, the 26-year-old defender is a threat to depart.
  • The Ravens already have several veteran contracts in their secondary, helping explain their reasoning to cut Weddle, but Jason La Canfora tweets they may be interested in Mathieu. Tony Jefferson‘s former back-line mate in Arizona, Mathieu would fit Baltimore’s desire for another playmaker at this position, JLC adds.
  • The Giants‘ decision to let Landon Collins hit free agency shocked much of the football-following world, and Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com reports there will be an extensive market awaiting the three-time Pro Bowler and 2016 All-Pro. The Chiefs, Colts and Redskins profile as potential suitors, per Raanan. This move also may affect future Giants negotiations, reminding of how Dave Gettleman‘s tactics as Carolina’s GM rubbed some Panthers the wrong way, with Raanan adding the team made no serious attempt to discuss a long-term deal with its high-profile safety.
  • New York received multiple offers for Collins prior to last year’s deadline, most notably a third-rounder from the Buccaneers, but Ralph Vacchiano of SNY notes the Giants were holding out for a second-rounder and possibly another late-round pick as well. Now, they will lose the safety for a compensatory pick — possibly a 2020 third-rounder, but that depends on what the Giants do in free agency.
  • Collins hitting the market should prompt the Colts to pursue him, with Joel Erickson of the Indianapolis Star writing the team — which uses a system that values safeties more than most teams — needs a strong safety to pair with Malik Hooker. The Colts engaged in discussions with Clayton Geathers‘ reps at the Combine, but it’s not clear where the sides stand in talks on a Geathers return to Indianapolis. The Colts have already re-signed Mark Glowinski and Margus Hunt, but both players were initially Chris Ballard-era additions. Geathers was a Ryan Grigson second-round pick. The Colts still hold more than $100MM in cap space, putting them in strong position to land Collins if they choose.
  • The 49ers remain in the market for a starting-caliber safety, per Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area (on Twitter). With former Seahawks assistant Robert Saleh running their defense, Earl Thomas is a natural fit. But Maiocco notes the team may not be willing to meet a massive asking price. There are, however, plenty of available candidates beyond Thomas to fill this role.

Giants Won’t Franchise Tag Landon Collins

The Giants will not apply the franchise tag to Landon Collins, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). With that, the Giants are likely set to move on from one of the game’s best young safeties. 

Recently, GM Dave Gettleman expressed doubt about cuffing Collins, but many expected the two sides to patch things up.

So let’s go to the conversation of eliminating distractions,” Gettleman said. “You tag a guy. He’s mad. And that’s all you guys are going to write about. For six months it’s what it’s going to be. So I have to say to myself, ‘Is it worth it?‘”

Collins clashed with the Giants last year and made it clear that he would not show up for work if he was tagged. Still, the move is perplexing to many in the football world – the Giants need talent in their secondary, yet they are somehow willing to lose out on a three-time Pro Bowler.

Collins, 25, joins a free agent safety group that also includes Earl Thomas, Tyrann Mathieu, Lamarcus Joyner, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Adrian Amos, and Kenny Vaccaro. Last year’s free agent safeties were met with disappointing offers, but it could be a different story this time around given the amount of cap space around the league and the lackluster talent at other positions.

The Buccaneers, Chiefs, and many other teams with safety needs figure to be in on Collins when free agency begins next week.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.