That timeline isn’t a problem for Collins’ ability to play in 2019, as he should easily be able to return to the field before training camp begins. But Collins’ recovery could impact his upcoming free agency, as interested clubs could express concern about his health next spring. Given his four-to-six month projection, Collins almost certainly won’t be fully healthy when the free agent market opens in March.
Although they haven’t talked about a new contract for Collins, the Giants still seemingly have every intention on keeping him in their 2019 plans. Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reported lat month that New York will deploy the franchise tag on Collins next spring if it fails to ink him to a long-term agreement. Collins, who if healthy could have aimed to top Eric Berry‘s $13MM annual average (the highest among safeties), can be retained via the franchise tag at a one-year cost of ~$12MM.
If the Giants reverse course and don’t use the franchise tag on Collins (and don’t come together on an extension), he’d be entering a free agent market that includes a stellar crop of available safeties. The safety market, of course, was incredibly stagnant this past offseason, and Collins would be hitting free agent alongside options such as Earl Thomas, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Lamarcus Joyner, Adrian Amos, and the group of safeties that were forced to ink one-year deals in 2018 (Tre Boston, Eric Reid, Kenny Vaccaro, George Iloka, and Tyrann Mathieu).
Given all the factors working against Collins — his health, the overloaded safety market — it shouldn’t be a surprise if he inks a one-year, “pillow” contract in order to re-establish his value. If Collins isn’t able to pass a physical by the time free agency opens, it might be best for him to accept some level of financial security and hope he can land a larger contract in 2020, when he’ll still be only 26 years old.
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 this season while grading as the NFL’s 36th-best safety, per Pro Football Focus.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.