The New York Giants haven’t truly been relevant since winning Super Bowl XLVI following the 2011 NFL season. Since that time, Big Blue has made it to the playoffs just once (2016) and has endured a string of poor personnel decisions that continues to this day.
On Monday as many teams around the league utilized the franchise tag to secure top defensive stars, it was reported by multiple NFL insiders that the Giants won’t tag safety Landon Collins.
“New York reportedly loves Collins as a player but view the tag number for safeties ($11.15 million) as too high,” NFL.com reported.
Why this matters: Giving up on one of their own, who has succeeded so much so early in his career, is just bonkers.
- Collins is still just 25 years old and is one of the best strong safeties in the NFL.
- A tackling machine, he’s the only safety in the NFL who has racked up at least 95 tackles in each of the last four seasons.
- Collins is also the only safety in the NFL who has at least 400 tackles and 30 passes defensed since 2015, per NFL.com.
- A do-it-all player, the he also has eight interceptions, four sacks, three forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and an incredible touchdown on record the past four seasons.
- Not surprisingly, Collins has three Pro-Bowls to his credit and was a First-team All-Pro in 2016, when he nearly won Defensive Player of the Year.
Perhaps ESPN’s Dan Graziano put it best:
Landon Collins is 25 years old, has made three Pro Bowls and been a first-team All-Pro. The locker room loves him. The fan base loves him. For the team that drafted him to let him walk when they can hold him in place for $11.15M is just a brutally bad decision.
— Dan Graziano (@DanGrazianoESPN) March 5, 2019
Yet the Collins decision isn’t surprising when you look at what New York has done in recent history.
History of bad moves: Coming from a team that throws Monopoly money at free agents that don’t have nearly the same kind of talent as Collins, the idea that he’s not worth $11.15 million is laughable.
- Last year, New York made left tackle Nate Solder the highest-paid player in NFL history at his position. He’s an average left tackle, at best, and did not perform up to expectations in 2018.
- During the season, the Giants traded one of the best defensive tackles in the NFL, Damon Harrison, to the Detroit Lions. They got just a fifth-round pick in return.
- In 2017, New York signed Jason Pierre-Paul to a four-year, $62 million deal. Just a year later, they traded him and a draft pick for two mid-round picks, eating $15 million in dead cap along the way.
- In 2016, the Giants dumped millions into free agency, signing Janoris Jenkins to a monster contract and giving Olivier Vernon a gargantuan contract. Jenkins has since become burnt toast, and Vernon is now on the trade block.
Those are just the most recent failures in the personnel department as it pertains to free agency.
The Eli Manning factor: It’s touching that the Giants continue to support the veteran quarterback who’s helped them win two Super Bowls. But the strategy has backfired, and could continue to do so this year.
- The Giants have continued to fail when it comes to preparing for the future. Last year’s decision to select Saquon Barkley instead of a quarterback at No. 2 overall was a prime example.
- Manning is clearly on the decline and is more of a statue in the pocket than ever before.
- Even when dealing with a clean pocket, Manning is average (at best). Per Sam Monson of PFF, he ranks 20th in the league in PFF grading from a clean pocket, and has the 18th-ranked passer rating in those situations the past four years.
- Manning is not getting the ball with any consistency to his top receivers in the red zone — Odell Beckham Jr.’s six touchdowns last year is a perfect reminder of that fact.
This year’s draft could be a problem: New York currently has the No. 6 overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. Yet even with that, the Giants could miss on the top quarterbacks.
- The Arizona Cardinals reportedly are in on Kyler Murray.
- There are a number of quarterback-needy teams that would likely be willing to move up into the top-two spots to land Murray (if Arizona isn’t actually interested) or Dwayne Haskins.
- The Oakland Raiders (No. 4 overall) are reportedly enamored with Murray and have met with Haskins. This is even more salient when you realize they were shopping Derek Carr during the combine.
- The other two “top” quarterbacks come with warning labels: Drew Lock isn’t the most accurate of passers, and Daniel Jones is the least impressive of the four overall.
The bottom line: The Giants have bungled things for a while now when it comes to team building, and that trend seems to be continuing.
They have a chance to secure one of the best young players at his position the league has to offer but are more concerned about the short-term implications of his franchise tag number in a year in which the playoffs are almost certainly out of reach anyway.
By sticking with Manning last year (and not drafting his successor) and coming into the 2019 NFL Draft with a sketchy situation at the quarterback position, the long-term future of the team is also very much in question.