Landon Collins’ future in football can go in any number of directions, but all of those various paths begin at the same point: with a decision by Giants general manager Dave Gettleman by 4 p.m. on Tuesday.
That’s the deadline for the Giants if they wish to use the franchise tag on the pending free-agent safety, and it will set the course for Collins’ immediate and long-term career.
After Collins’ four years with the Giants, three of which culminated in a Pro Bowl invite, Gettleman has to decide whether the team will retain its rights to him for 2019 at the cost of $11.15 million — and likely not see him until the regular season is about to begin in September, when he signs after boycotting the offseason and preseason over the designation — or allow him to hit the open market next week, when any of the other 31 teams can sign him to a longer and even more lucrative deal.
When he spoke with reporters at the NFL Scouting Combine last week, Gettleman pointed to a number of reasons to let Collins walk. The $11.15 million represents a good chunk of the $27 million or so in salary-cap space available to the team as it embarks on the free-agency period, he said. Gettleman said he wants to keep about $10 million of that in reserve for the start of the season, too.
He was worried about Collins’ disappointment in being tagged becoming a distraction to the team. There also are concerns after Collins ended each of the past two seasons on injured reserve and how much longer his body can withstand his punishing style of play.
Why tag him, then? Because he is young (25), is productive and can be the most dynamic player on a defense that is hungry for playmakers.
Gettleman’s history with franchising players has not been very successful. He used it for the first time with the Panthers in 2014 on Greg Hardy. Three months later, Hardy was arrested for assaulting his ex-girlfriend and spent most of the season on the commissioner’s exempt list while earning the $13.1 million from the guaranteed tag. In 2016, he used the tag on cornerback Josh Norman. A month after that, he rescinded it and Norman signed with the Redskins as a free agent.
There are other less likely options for the Giants. They could reach a last-minute, long-term deal with Collins before the start of the league year next week, though they have not had productive talks in that direction. They could use the transition tag, which will cost them less than the franchise tag ($9.531 million) and gives them the right of first refusal on any contract offer made to Collins as a free agent.
Tuesday’s decision, though, likely will come down to two choices. Collins either will be franchise-tagged and play for the Giants in 2019 . . . or he won’t and he won’t.
Backup QB Tanney re-signs. Alex Tanney didn’t play a single snap for the Giants in 2018, but the backup quarterback was re-signed by the team on a two-year deal Monday. Tanney, 31, last threw a regular-season pass in 2015 as a member of the Titans. He made the Giants’ roster out of training camp last year as a veteran option in case Eli Manning was unable to play. Rookie Kyle Lauletta wound up playing the only snaps that Manning did not in a blowout win over the Redskins.