This is a curious decision by the Giants. By not tagging Collins, who turned 25 in January, New York now risks losing one of their most talented players. Collins’ agent can begin negotiating with other teams as soon as next Monday, March 11.
Placing the tag on Collins wouldn’t have been so crazy. The franchise number for safeties this year is $11.15 million, which is good for fifth among safeties in terms of annual value. And that’s before Earl Thomas gets paid this offseason; his new deal would’ve knocked Collins out of the top five at his position.
The Giants could’ve used the tag as a placeholder to work out a long-term extension at some point prior to July 15. Instead, they’ll risk losing one of their best young players in free agency.
Here’s the reaction from Ed Valentine over at Big Blue View:
This is a hard move to understand, if indeed it is what happens. It doesn’t seem like good on-field business for the Giants, a team that needs help on all levels of what was a leaky defense in 2018, to risk losing a 25-year-old who might be their best defensive player.
Speaking at the NFL Combine last week, Giants general manager David Gettleman cited New York’s cap space issues as a reason the team might not be able to tag Collins. The G-Men are currently projected to have $27 million this offseason. They could always add $17 million more by releasing or trading Eli Manning. But they’ve already publicly committed to the washed up 38-year-old as their starting quarterback in 2019. As such, Manning will count $23.2 million against the Giants’ cap.
Failing to tag Collins isn’t the first time Gettleman has screwed up use of the franchise tag. Serving as the Panthers’ GM in 2016, Gettleman applied the tag to star cornerback Josh Norman and later rescinded it. Norman ended up signing with Washington and Carolina received no compensation for losing him.
Gettleman’s work with the Giants to this point has not been impressive. His incompetence is good news for the Philadelphia Eagles as they try to maintain their recent dominance over the G-Men. So is the fact that Collins could be leaving the NFC East.