On Tuesday, the New York Giants informed safety Landon Collins that they would not utilize the franchise tag on him, making him a free agent. This was pure mismanagement by the Giants, any way you slice it.
Collins will be entering his fifth season next year. In his first four, he made the Pro Bowl three times. He finished third in the Defensive Player of the Year voting in 2016. He was clearly the best player on the Giant’s defense for the past several years. Now, Giants general manager Dave Gettleman is parting ways with him. That’s somewhat of a head scratcher. What’s harder to understand is why Gettleman is letting him go for nothing.
Giants fans are unhappy with the move, as Collins is very popular in New York. It’s a hard pill to swallow. The lack of return compensation makes it especially bitter.
Collins is one of the better safeties in the league and will command significant money as a free agent. However, the Giants had the option to franchise tag him. Collins had openly stated in the past that while he hoped for a long term deal, he would gladly play under the franchise tag for one year. To tag him, the Giants would have had to pay him 11.2 million dollars. Yes, the Giants cap situation isn’t great but the solution to that is not letting go of a young, dynamic safety who is loved by fans and teammates.
Gettleman has tried to justify this by saying Collins is not a fit for defensive coordinator James Bettcher’s defense. Bettcher prefers a ball-hawk type safety and coverage is not Collins’ strong suit. He is more of an at the line safety, making plays against the run. If that is how the organization feels, that’s fine. However, why didn’t they trade him back when the team was 1-7 last year and get return value for a former second round pick and pro-bowler?
Gettleman knew this past season that Collins’ style wasn’t a fit for Bettcher’s system. He knew that it would cost 11 million dollars to franchise Collins. He had all of that information and did nothing.
The Giants need an infusion of talent, particularly on the defensive side of the ball and the offensive line. For a player of Collins’ caliber, Gettleman could have gotten back draft assets to help address that. The trade of Ha Ha Clinton Dix shows there were buyers for safeties mid season. Instead, the Giants lose their best defensive player with nothing to show for it. Simply put, that’s a horrible job of asset management.
Gettleman hasn’t helped the cap situation by deciding to stick with Eli Manning for another year. Whether that decision came from ownership or not, the bottom line is that the Giants have cap woes. They have decided to pay 23 million to a 38 year old quarterback who is clearly at the end of his career rather than pay 11 million to a 25 year old pro bowl safety entering his prime.
Bad franchises make those kind of decisions and the truth is, that’s what the Giants are now. A badly managed franchise.
As if all of this weren’t bad enough, Gettleman just sent a pretty clear message to the locker room. It doesn’t matter if you play your heart out, it doesn’t matter if you’re a high character guy, it doesn’t matter if you’re one of the elites at your position. When it comes time for you to get paid, he’ll show you the door. That hardline negotiation stance rubbed players the wrong way when Gettleman was in Carolina. He did the same thing to Josh Norman as he just did to Landon Collins. What free agents want to come play in that scenario?
Many Giant fans were ecstatic when former general manager, Jerry Reese, was finally let go this past offseason. Gettleman may have just proven the truth in the old saying: the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.