Landon Collins Rumors: Latest Buzz on Cowboys, Chiefs, More Ahead of Free AgencyMarch 11, 2019
It's possible for teams to have success in the NFL without a strong secondary, but it's definitely a lot less stressful trying to pull out wins when you know the defensive backs are capable both in coverage and shoring up the run defense. Those squads looking to improve their defenses at the back end are in luck this offseason, as several talented safeties are hitting free agency.
Strong safety Landon Collins is one such player. After four years with the New York Giants, Collins is a free agent and seems likely to make a move. According to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, the Kansas City Chiefs, Indianapolis Colts, Dallas Cowboys and Washington are potential landing spots for the Alabama alum:
Rapoport's Chiefs comments fall in line with reporting from NJ.com's Matt Lombardo, who suggested the AFC West champions will be taking a good, long look at Collins:
Collins, 25, has wasted little time in establishing himself as one of the top safeties in the league. He's been selected for three Pro Bowls in his four-year career and was also named first-team All-Pro in 2016, when he racked up 125 total tackles, five interceptions and 13 passes defended. His last two seasons haven't been quite as spectacular as that 2016 effort, and he failed to record an interception in last year's injury-shortened season.
Pro Football Focus pointed out Collins' drop-off in 2018 but still consider him a good bet to return to form next season:
Collins will have a much better chance of returning to All-Pro status if he finds a team that has a scheme to fit his skill set. The Washington Post's Neil Greenberg noted Collins struggled in open coverage in 2018:
"When targeted in space in 2018, opposing receivers caught 33-of-43 passes thrown his way for 397 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions, resulting in a 127.8 passer rating against, a clear departure from the 2016 (70.1) and 2017 (94.8) seasons."
Greenberg also noted that Giants defensive coordinator James Bettcher, hired in 2018, prefers "versatile and more interchangeable safeties." Whatever changes Bettcher brought to New York last season clearly didn't work out for Collins and exposed whatever limitations he has in pass coverage.
Collins is 25 years old, though, so there's reason to believe he can still make adjustments and improve that part of his game. Whichever team brings him on might want to emphasize the "strong" in strong safety, focusing on his peerless run-stopping ability and putting him on tight ends in coverage.
PFF noted he had plenty of success near the line of scrimmage in 2018:
Of the four teams Rapoport noted as possible suitors for Collins, Kansas City could use his help the most. They ranked 27th in rushing yards allowed and 31st in passing yards allowed. If Collins' abilities as a run defender are prioritized, Washington is probably next in line after ranking 17th in rushing yards allowed in 2018. Both Dallas and Indianapolis had top-10 run defenses last season.
Kansas City could use a player like Collins, but they haven't yet made a decision on 30-year-old safety Eric Berry, who has struggled with injuries the past couple of seasons. If the Chiefs plan on going after Collins, it's almost certain they would have to part ways with Berry.
Rapoport mentioned that caveat in the video above, while also noting Washington's interest in Collins could depend on what they do with free safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. Kansas City and Washington's safety dilemma could well pave the way for the Cowboys or Colts if they are aggressive in their pursuit of Collins.
Of course, Collins isn't necessarily the top target for any team, with the likes of Earl Thomas and Adrian Amos available. It may be that Collins doesn't sign until a few other other moves are made when free agency officially begins on March 13.