Landon Collins is headed to Washington, the team he grew up rooting for, on the biggest deal for a safety in NFL history.
The New York Giants' three-time Pro Bowler will see his former team twice per year after being promised a staggering $45 million as part of his six-year, $84 million deal, according to ESPN's Josina Anderson. For reference, previously the NFL's highest-paid safety, Eric Berry, received just shy of $30 million guaranteed as part of his six-year, $78 million contract, signed two offseasons ago. And the Chiefs didn't ink Berry, at his best one of the two or three true two-way safeties in the game, in an offseason where it's arguably the deepest position when we combine free agency and the draft.
Let us be crystal clear: Collins is a heck of a player, only 25 years old and absolutely the leader of Washington's defense the moment he puts on the burgundy and gold for the first time next month.
But to pay any safety, never mind one without the range and cover skills to thrive in space, anywhere near that in this market is nothing short of stunning. And that's factoring in that perhaps the worst front office in football is the one brokering the deal.
We were hard-pressed to envision how Dave Gettleman could come out of this looking good. Ladies and gentlemen, the Washington football franchise.
A few quick facts that Washington is either ignoring or simply didn't care enough to consider in this franchise-altering contract:
· Collins has finished each of the past two seasons on injured reserve, and with his style of play, the durability concerns that followed him from Alabama hardly have subsided.
· Washington will be quarterbacked by Case Keenum next season. And not the Minneapolis Miracle Keenum, mind you. The Vikings had perhaps the NFL's best WR combo regularly bailing out Keenum and helping him parlay that magical 2017 into a huge deal and predictable demise in his lone season in Denver.
Washington's most accomplished pass catcher currently under contract? 35-year-old TE Vernon Davis. The team's best receiver, Jamison Crowder, is a free agent. Its most dynamic pass catcher, Jordan Reed, is perpetually injured. Former first-round WR Josh Doctson will soon have his fifth-year option for 2020 declined.
What Washington might do at quarterback — and potentially head coach — in 2020 is as unclear as how they'll better surround Keenum now. Alex Smith's playing future is in jeopardy, and we're comfortable saying that Keenum ain't it. And if he is, Washington will continue to epitomize mediocrity at best.
And Collins' deal means he very well could outlast Jay Gruden, who'll enter 2019 on the hot seat, again, with Keenum and a poor crop of pass catchers. Collins is a really good player but not one who is so versatile and scheme transcendent that the next coaching staff won't have to work to make it work with him.
· Washington spent $13 million two years ago on S D.J. Swearinger, only to waive him late last season for noncompliance. Washington also traded a fourth-rounder to Green Bay at last year's trade deadline for impending free agent Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Collins' former Tide running mate who is now almost certainly done in D.C.
· The few other teams reportedly in on Collins, including the Chiefs and Packers, wouldn't have come close to matching this deal. It certainly seems like Washington somehow allowed ... Washington to drive up the price here.