I meant to write this article before Washington announced that they were releasing Landon Collins with a post-June 1 cut, but I’ll write it now in the hopes that he returns to this team in the next few weeks. It’s been quite a journey to get to this spot.
Bluntly, I hated the Landon Collins signing from the day it was announced. I thought it was way too much money for a guy at a non-critical position who was a potential injury risk.
At the end of the day, this is the same sort of splashy, ill-conceived signing the Redskins have continued to make over the past 20+ years of Dan Snyder’s ownership. I wouldn’t be surprised at all for Collins to have a good year, or perhaps even two, over the next 2-3 years, but the reality is, the Redskins team is unlikely to be very good, particularly in the next year or two.
I hated the fact that the coaching staff played him out of position for much of his time in Washington, and that Collins himself resented being moved into the spot where he was most valuable on the field.
His real value though, and the real value of any linebacker, shines through in the passing game. There’s a vast difference in responsibility between underneath and deep zones. The latter is where Collins admittedly struggled throughout his career, as his angles and lack of top-end speed got exposed down the field. In fact, all six of his pass-breakups this year came either underneath or guarding the slot. His instincts as an underneath zone defender are exceptional.
With all that history, it feels incongruous to be the one now making the case for why Collins deserves at least another year in Washington, but I believe that he does.
Like he had with Albert Haynesworth and Josh Norman, Dan Snyder reset the market at the position with his 6/year $14M/AAV deal to the box safety in March 2019. Based on the way his deal was structured, Collins’ was effectively uncuttable through the 2021 season. Going into the 2022 season, Collins had a dead cap hit of around $9.6M - and that money is gone, regardless of what else happens.
His 2022 contract would have effectively been $6.5M on top of that dead cap hit, and that is what the team salvaged by cutting him halfway through his 6 year deal.
He’s had the opportunity to shop himself since early March and, indications are, there hasn’t been a ton of interest. Since he was cut, he could have been signed at any time without impacting the compensatory picks of the team that signed him.
I suspect, if he’s willing to let bygones be bygones, and put his ego aside, that he might be able to be brought back for a contract in the $3-4M range. And, I think that would be worth it.
Why Should We Bring Him Back?
Collins was terrible at the beginning of the season, when Jack Del Rio continued to used him as a safety, often in deep coverage, and he was repeatedly burned by opposing offenses.
But, around Week 6, the defensive coaching staff finally got a clue and starting using him primarily closer to the line of scrimmage, in more of a linebacker - or “Buffalo nickel” role - and more sparsely, and things improved immensely. There was a mid to late season stretch where Collins was arguably Washington’s best defender on the field.
Landon Collins is being used in the box on 51% of his snaps this season — his highest percentage since arriving to Washington in 2019. Over the last three weeks, that number is 54.5 https://t.co/pUaNVdJ44q— Matthew Paras (@Matthew_Paras) October 21, 2021
Maybe #WashingtonFootball best defensive performance came with William Jackson III out the lineup and Landon Collins playing LB and only 24/56 defensive snaps.— KB (@KBDCSports) October 25, 2021
LB Landon Collins was Washington’s 4th highest graded defender yesterday, via PFF.— Damien Bartonek (@DABartonek) November 1, 2021
Landon put together his best overall performance in my opinion, throughout every aspect of the position.
47 snaps, 76.5 DEF grade, 78.3 RDEF grade, 81.3 tackling grade. #WashingtonFootball
S Landon Collins recorded his first-career multi-sack game on Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys. He also added his first interception since September 20, 2020 at Arizona. pic.twitter.com/tv22Fb9h7o— All-Pro Reels (@allproreels) December 13, 2021
If Collins isn’t prepared to come back and play in that capacity again - he bristled at it continuously throughout the season - then this entire exercise is moot, but if he’s willing to continue on in the role, I’d welcome his return.
With Landon Collins in the fold as the veteran specialist in the middle of the defense, Washington could be poised to enjoy the level of success on that side of the ball that many expected of it last year. What say you?
Would you like to see Washington bring Landon Collins back?