ASHBURN, Va. (AP) — Landon Collins wore No. 21 in honor of Sean Taylor. Now he’ll don the same burgundy and gold as his idol.
Collins on Monday agreed to sign a six-year, $84 million deal with the Washington Redskins that includes $45 million guaranteed. After the New York Giants let Collins walk rather than pay him $11.2 million with the franchise tag, he’ll make an average of $14 million per season as one of the highest-paid safeties in football.
A person with knowledge of the agreement confirmed the deal to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Monday because it can’t become official until free agency opens Wednesday. It’s the latest big move by the Redskins after they agreed last week to acquire quarterback Case Keenum from the Denver Broncos.
Swapping 2020 sixth- and seventh-round picks with Denver to get Keenum is a low-risk trade to fill the void left by Alex Smith’s career-threatening injury. Signing Collins is another expensive splash for an organization that has a reputation for spending big in free agency .
Before New York selected him 33rd overall in the 2015 draft, Collins said he always wanted to play for the Redskins because of Taylor, the hard-hitting safety who died after being shot at his home in Florida in 2007.
The 25-year-old Collins led the Giants with 96 tackles last season, and his 437 since entering the NFL in 2015 are the most among safeties in that time. In 59 career games, Collins had eight interceptions but none last season.
“He is a complete safety,” retired safety Will Blackmon said on Twitter. “He is a leader, he’s smart, he can cover man or zone, he has great ball skills, he has really good instincts and most importantly he can tackle extremely well.”
Getting Collins fills one of Washington’s biggest needs on a defense that ranked 17th in the league last season. The team acquired safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix from Green Bay at the 2018 trade deadline, but he is set to be a free agent. D.J. Swearinger was released late in the season after repeatedly questioning the coaching staff and was claimed off waivers by Arizona.
There’s also uncertainty about safety Montae Nicholson, who was arrested in December for assault and battery and missed the final two games of last season.
Collins’ situation is reminiscent of when the Carolina Panthers let cornerback Josh Norman go by rescinding the franchise tag after his All-Pro season in 2015. The Redskins then signed him to a $75 million, five-year contract.
Giants general manager Dave Gettleman was then GM of the Panthers, which led Norman on Monday to tweet , “In ‘Gettleman’ WE Trust (All-DBs) securing the” money.
The irony is that Norman is among the players who could be released to save salary-cap space. Releasing Norman would save the Redskins $8.5 million after three seasons with the team.
Follow AP Sports Writer Stephen Whyno on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SWhyno