The Washington Redskins have taken full advantage of the NFL's legal tampering period before free agency officially opens on Wednesday. To boost the back half of an already improved defense, the team is expected to sign former New York Giants safety Landon Collins to a six-year, $84 million contract.
The move isn’t much of a surprise. After parting ways with former starter D.J. Swearinger midway through last season, a gaping hole was left next to Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, who the team acquired prior to the trade deadline. Clinton-Dix is a now a free agent as well, so the need for a high-caliber safety was one of the team’s top needs.
That’s where Collins comes in. The former Alabama standout played in 59 games for the Giants over four seasons, racking up 437 tackles, four sacks and eight interceptions in the process. His 2016 season (125 tackles, four sacks, five interceptions) helped him land All-Pro honors, but injuries in each of the last two years limited his overall production.
Most recently, the 6-foot, 222-pound specimen was forced to miss the last four regular-season games of 2018 due to a partially torn labrum. It was a major blow to the Giants’ defense, but not enough for them to apply the franchise tag to retain his services.
Even still, the Giants’ loss could end up being the Redskins’ gain.
Collins commands a presence due to his leadership and tone-setting mentality. Sure, his 2016 season could be a slight outlier, but there’s no doubt he’s one of the most physically gifted safeties in the NFL.
There’s also the fact that Collins will be reunited with several familiar faces.
Prior to signing Collins, Washington was already gaining a reputation for being Alabama 2.0. The team had spent a first-round pick on a Crimson Tide defender in each of the last two seasons. As if that wasn’t enough, the team continued to add talent from Tuscaloosa over the last couple of years. Here’s a collective list:
- DL Jonathan Allen (Round 1 in ‘17)
- LB Ryan Anderson (Round 2 in ‘17)
- DL Da’Ron Payne (Round 1 in ‘18)
- LB Shaun-Dion Hamilton (Round 6 in ‘18)
- WR Cam Sims (Undrafted free agent in ‘18)
- S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (Acquired through trade with Green Bay)
- LB Reuben Foster (Claimed off waivers after being released by San Francisco)
- WR ArDarius Stewart (Signed to a reserve/future deal)
- S Landon Collins (Expected to sign as free agent)
The Redskins also reportedly were in pursuit of another free agent with Bama ties, Baltimore Ravens linebacker C.J. Mosley, at least prior to agreeing to terms with Collins.
It's a moot point, however, as Mosley is expected to sign a massive (five years, $85 million with $51 million guaranteed) to join the New York Jets, the NFL Network reported Tuesday morning.
As for Washington, it would be hard for the coaching staff and front office to hide their infatuation with former Crimson Tide players. Is that the Nick Saban effect or something else entirely? That’s a great question, but there’s one thing that’s certain: the Redskins landed a dominate safety that’s capable of helping them get over the hump defensively.
Collins is a capable defender in coverage, but it’ll be his ability to play in the box against the run that’ll make the biggest difference for Washington. After jumping from dead last against the run in 2017 to No. 17 in '18, expect Collins to help the team make another sizable jump in that category alone this coming season.
— Written by Clint Lamb, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Follow him on Twitter @ClintRLamb.