The safety market was already going to be loaded this NFL offseason. Then Landon Collins joined the party.
But as good of a fit as Collins may appear to be on paper, the Seahawks won’t be after him.
In a surprising turn of events, reports Tuesday said the Giants won’t be putting the franchise tag on their star strong safety – what would’ve kept him in New York making $11.15 million in 2019. So Collins will become a free agent when the new league year starts next week, joining a loaded safety market that includes the Seahawks’ own Earl Thomas, Tyrann Mathieu and Tre Boston, among others.
Collins, at just 25, has three Pro Bowls and an All-Pro selection through just four NFL seasons.
It’s easy to picture his role in Seattle’s secondary: a hard-hitting safety in the box, similar to what Kam Chancellor brought during the Legion of Boom years. One of the league’s premier run stoppers, Collins is a very productive defender who’s still young and could be integral to the growth of the Seahawks’ new core. He could play strong safety while Bradley McDougald slides to free, which the latter is comfortable playing. It’s a bonus that Collins is a great locker room presence.
I want to thank the Giants organization for believing in me and allowing me to have 4 great years in NY. I can’t express how great it was to play with my teammates and in one of the greatest cities in the world. I will forever cherish my time in the blue and white and the
— LANDON COLLINS (@TheHumble_21) March 5, 2019
A Seahawks’ defense could feature Collins with Frank Clark, Bobby Wagner, McDougald and rising stars like Tre Flowers and Shaquill Griffin. Imagine that?
A big roadblock to this vision, however, would be price.
Considering his production and youth, Collins could be commanding top safety money. That would mean a number close to (or at) the $13 million annually the Chiefs’ Eric Berry makes as the league’s highest paid safety.
It’s very unlikely that the Seahawks would want to meet that, considering they just dug deep into their pockets to secure Frank Clark for 2019; the defensive end will make $17.128 million on the franchise tag in the upcoming season (If a multi-year agreement is reached before July 15, the annual value of a deal would likely be even more than that).
Seattle has other positions that figure to be more of a priority to improve, too. It needs more pass rushing and head coach Pete Carroll has been vocal about keeping the O-line intact.
Safeties Delano Hill and Tedric Thompson are poised to make leaps in 2019 with more experience under their belt. And any depth concerns at the position could theoretically be addressed in this year’s draft, which has plenty of potential Day 1 impact players.
Development could be Seattle’s stance at safety. That seems like a very Pete Carroll-John Schneider thing to do.
The Seahawks were also unwilling to bend to Thomas’ desire for a new contract extension, despite his production suggesting he may still be the best free safety in football. And if you want to disregard the Thomas argument because of his age and injury history, keep in mind the last time Seattle paid a high-profile strong safety.
Three months after signing a three-year, $36 million extension with the Seahawks in 2017, Chancellor suffered a major neck injury that essentially ended his career – and Seattle has still been paying him. Chancellor swooped up $5.2 million in injury guarantees last month (Schneider said he’ll be officially released from the team in the coming months, essentially a salary-cap formality).
The Seahawks have had bad luck with elite safeties due to injury. Collins could be more of the same. His long-term durability was viewed as a concern in New York, as he missed the last four games of last season with a partially torn labrum. That could be viewed as red flag by Seattle.
The idea of Collins in a Seahawk uniform sounds great in theory, but is probably not realistic.