The team has until Mar. 5 at 4:00 PM EST to use their franchise tag on Collins. If they don’t tag him or come to an agreement or a long-term deal, he will become an unrestricted free agent when the new league year begins on Mar. 13. If Collins becomes an unrestricted free agent, the Giants could receive a third-round compensatory pick in April’s NFL Draft.
The decision on Collins hasn’t been made yet. Should the Giants decide to release him, they have some options on the free agent market for a replacement.
2018 Stats: 73 combined tackles (59 solo), one sack, one quarterback hit, two interceptions, nine passes defended, one fumble recovered
Amos emerged as one of the NFL’s top cover safeties, shining on a Chicago Bears defense that led the NFL in takeaways while surrendering the fewest points. Amos’ versatility may be his strongest suit as he played both safety positions last season. He would be an upgrade from Collins, who struggled in coverage throughout his career. At 25 years old, Amos is entering his physical prime and could provide stability for years to come. However, Amos will not come cheap and will have many suitors on the open market.
2018 Stats: 93 combined tackles (80 solo), one sack, two quarterback hits, three interceptions, six passes defended, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovered
Clinton-Dix began 2018 with the Green Bay Packers before being dealt to the Washington Redskins at the trade deadline. He is one of the NFL’s most dependable safeties, having never missed a game in his five-year NFL career. He started in 74 of his career 80 NFL games. The Giants may look to acquire Clinton-Dix even if Collins is still on the team. Stealing a player of his caliber from a division rival would be a coup. Pairing him with Collins would make the Giants secondary instantly formidable. Clinton-Dix also represents a more economically friendly upgrade.
2018 Stats: 89 combined tackles (70 solo), three sacks, four quarterback hits, two interceptions, eight passes defended, one fumble recovered
The Honey Badger had one of the best seasons of his career for the AFC South champion Houston Texans. Mathieu made his living primarily in the box as a run-stuffer but also played some free safety. During his tenure with the Arizona Cardinals, Mathieu played a role similar to what Collins does for the Giants. After outperforming his one-year, $7 million contract, he will draw interest on the open market because of his tackling ability and versatility in coverage. Mathieu, whose off-the-field issues are well documented, would also provide leadership in the locker room. It would be a long shot for the Giants to land Mathieu. His former Cardinals head coach, Bruce Arians, is now with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
2018 Stats: 38 combined tackles (22 solo), three interceptions, five passes defended
Thomas was the most important component of the Seattle Seahawks’ Legion of Boom defense. He has been among the NFL’s elite safeties since he was drafted 14th overall out of Texas in 2010. His knowledge of the game and ability to know exactly where the football is going to go before the snap has made offensive coordinators and quarterbacks lose sleep. Thomas is coming off a gruesome broken tibia that limited him to just four games last season. In addition, he turns 30 on May 7. There is no question Thomas would provide a spark to the Giants secondary. The real issue is for how long. Thomas would be a pricey, short-term solution at safety.
2018 Stats: 58 combined tackles (41 solo), two sacks, four quarterback hits, one interception, four passes defended
Vaccaro started in all 13 games he appeared in last season for the Tennessee Titans. He brings a greater physicality to the position than Collins. The Titans were 9-4 with Vaccaro in the lineup and 0-3 when he was sidelined with a dislocated elbow. The Giants are very familiar with Vaccaro and his physical style of play. He relentlessly chased running back Saquon Barkley in a 17-0 Week 15 Giants loss despite losing his helmet. Vaccaro wouldn’t necessarily be an upgrade over Collins. His willingness to put his body on the line and no-nonsense approach to the game would be a welcome addition to the Giants.