New York Giants: Why It Is Inexplicable, Inexcusable, and Incompetent To Not Franchise Tag Landon Collins

New York Giants, Landon Collins

On Monday afternoon, teams all around the NFL used their franchise tag on their best impending free agents, except for the New York Giants. The Texans used the non-exclusive franchise tag on Jadeveon Clowney, the Chiefs used the franchise tag on Dee Ford, and the Seahawks used the tag on Frank Clark.

All of these teams used the tag on their best defensive player. The deadline to use the franchise tag is March 5th at 4:00 p.m. A report by Ian Rapoport surfaced on Monday revealing that the New York Giants do not plan on using their franchise tag on their own best defensive player, strong safety Landon Collins.

Now, typically, I write my articles in a very objective way. I do not use the first-person narrative like I am right now, and I do not give my opinion. I usually just present the facts, rumors, and reports, then explain what it means for the Giants.

However, this is a special case. The Giants’ choosing to not use the franchise tag on Landon Collins has set the majority of the fanbase off into a feeling of vicious anger. It has also lead many fans to lose hope in general manager Dave Gettleman. So, allow me to be the voice of the people.

What Is The Franchise Tag?

Franchise tags are tools that allow NFL teams to keep would-be free agents for one year. The player’s guaranteed salary for that one season is attractive — the greater of the average of the top five salaries at his position, or 120 percent of his prior year’s salary — but such a tag provides the player no long-term security.

In 2019, the franchise tag’s price for the safety position is $11,150,000. Apparently, the Giants think that is too pricey for the best player on their defense. This is coming from the general manager who admitted his defense was terrible and vowed to improve it in the offseason.

Letting your best defensive player walk for nothing does not make your team better in any way. If the Giants do not think Collins is that talented of a player, they do not have to sign him to a long-term extension. In fact, it would be wise of them not to if they do not believe in him as a franchise player. But it would be the bare minimum for the Giants to place the franchise tag on Landon Collins.

Explaining The Non-Exclusive Franchise Tag:

There are three types of franchise tags. The non-exclusive franchise tag, the exclusive franchise tag, and the transition tag.

When a player is placed on the non-exclusive franchise tag, they have the opportunity to gain two first-round picks as compensation if the player leaves. The non-exclusive franchise tag allows other teams to make contract offers to Landon Collins and allows the Giants to match these offers if they so desire. If the Giants do not want to match the offer, Collins goes to the team whose offer he accepts and the Giants receive two first-round picks as compensation.

That is just one way for the Giants to receive compensation for Landon Collins. Collins has a reported trade value of a third-round pick. Prior to the 2018 trade deadline, the Giants shopped Collins in hopes of receiving a second-round pick. They were offered a third-round pick but declined the offer.

Why Using A Franchise Tag Is A No-Brainer:

If the Giants did not plan on keeping Landon Collins around in the future, why did they not accept the third-round pick at the trade deadline? What sense is there in letting a star player walk with nothing in return?

It is not too late for the Giants to get something in return for Collins. They could if they wanted to, but they are choosing not to. This is just inexplicable.

If the Giants want to move on from Collins, they should still place the franchise tag on him. When signed to a franchise tag, the Giants have the ability to trade Collins. Without a doubt, a team would trade for him. Offenses were scoring at a record-setting rate in 2018. Everyone is looking for help on defense (except for the Giants, for some reason).

Collins will have a “significant market” if he becomes an unrestricted free agent. Even if Landon did not become an unrestricted free agent, he would still have a huge market. A team would trade for him. The Giants could still get their third-round pick for Collins, which would be a huge addition considering they do not have a third-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.

Why Landon Collins Is Worth The Salary Cap Number:

Maybe Collins is not deserving of a long-term extension with about $11 million annually. That opinion could be validly argued. But when you look at the rest of the Giants’ roster, I can not figure out why they think this price is too high. Collins is a former all-pro safety. He is the most consistent player on the Giants’ defense. Yet he is not worthy of about $11 million.

However, Gettleman thinks Alec Ogletree is worth being the third-highest paid inside linebacker in the NFL. Gettleman is fine paying Ogletree $11,750,000 in 2019, but he cannot find the money to pay Landon Collins. Alec Ogletree was Pro Football Focus’s 81st ranked linebacker in the NFL in 2018 with an overall grade of 50.7. He was the second lowest graded player on the Giants in 2018, but he will make $11,750,000 next season.

Landon Collins was the third-highest graded player on the Giants’ defense in 2018 with a grade of 70.4. This overall grade is also much higher than the Giants’ highest-paid player in 2019.

Dave Gettleman’s Mismanagement Of The Salary Cap

Eli Manning is set to make $23,200,000 in 2019. He had an overall PFF grade of 64.3 in 2018, making him the 31st ranked quarterback in the NFL. There are only 32 teams in the NFL. Compare this to Collins’s third-highest defensive grade on the Giants, and lack of a contract with the team.

I love Eli Manning as much as the next guy, but Dave Gettleman cannot justify paying Manning that salary and yet whine that the franchise tag price for Collins is too high. Cutting the 38-year-old Eli Manning saves $17 million in cap space. At the very least, the Giants could negotiate Manning into a pay-cut to free some cap space. That is the missing money for Collins.

Believe me when I say this: Eli Manning is my favorite football player of all time and he is the reason I am a Giants fan. But this does not change the fact that his contract is hurting the rest of the Giants. Especially when they refuse to pay star players due to limited cap space.

Eli Manning is a franchise hero. But 21 passing touchdowns does not cut it in today’s NFL. Jerry Reese failed Manning. He was unable to build a solid roster around Eli when he was in his prime. This is a fact, however, that time is gone. Eli is not in his prime anymore. The Giants do not need to pay him like he is in his prime, especially if it means letting talented players walk out the door with nothing in return.

Cutting Eli Manning frees up $17 million. Releasing backup tight end Rhett Ellison frees up $3.25 million. Cutting edge rusher Olivier Vernon frees up $11.5 million. That is $31.75 million freed up right there to put the Giants at roughly $58 million which is more than enough to make moves while franchise tagging Landon Collins.

How The New York Giants Can Fix Their Tight End Problem

New York Giants, Rhett Ellison

After reading the title of this precarious article you will probably assume it revolves around the New York Giants‘ struggles with containing opposing tight ends on defense. On the contrary, they have controversy and objections on both sides of the ball, but I want to focus on the offense and where the tight end position currently sits.

How have the New York Giants used their tight ends in 2018?

At the current stage of a 3-8 season, the Giants have tried to utilize former first-round pick Evan Engram in a majority of packages. The problem seems to be his catching ability, or lack there of. Engram was drafted to be a threat down the middle of the field, also referred to as the “seam.” Head coach Pat Shurmur just doesn’t seem to take advantage of the second-year tight end’s supposed skill-set. In fact, he’s on managed 257 yards through 12 weeks compared to a 722 yard rookie campaign.

It’s fair to mention that Engram was thrusted into the top receiving option for Eli Manning after Odell Beckham Jr.’s season-ending injury. His stats are a bit padded, especially with his ugly eight dropped passes. My argument, though, seems to take me away from Engram and towards Rhett Ellison.

I believe that Ellison is simply the better option at tight end and should be utilized more frequently. Why, you might ask? Because he can catch the ball just as efficiently, but he can also block well. When Ellison joined the Giants in 2017, his primary assignment was to be a blocker. We have seen him evolve into more than that, and it should earn him more playing time than the struggling Engram.

Ellison has 212 yards and one touchdown this season, just a tad less than Engram, but he offers far more in the running game. Last week, he amassed 77 yards on four catches. His impact on the game was significant and shouldn’t be overlooked.

Evan Engram Vs. Rhett Ellison:

Given the fact that Engram was drafted for his catching ability, it’s only fair to compare his catch-rate to Ellison’s. To some surprise, he falls far below that of the veteran, landing at 55.7% in 2017 and 69.7% in ’18. Ellison on the other hand caught 75% of balls in 2017 and 76% in ’18 (so far). Someone please explain to me why Jerry Reese felt it was necessary to draft a glorified wide receiver in the first round while having Beckham and Sterling Shepard on the roster…

Another argument you could make would be: Engram is far more productive in the deep passing game. You would be wrong; Ellison and Engram both average 11.2 yards per-reception. The most underwhelming part behind these statistics; Engram earns double the amount of receptions per-game (3.3) and Ellison has still managed to keep up with him in regard to overall receiving yards and yards-per-catch.

What do you think? Should the Giants continue to use Ellison in a more prominent role? He can block after all.