According to the NFL Network’s Kim Jones and Ian Rapoport, the Giants are unlikely to use the franchise tag on Collins. This means he will become an unrestricted free agent when the new league year begins at 4:00 PM EDT on Mar. 13.
A source close to the Giants told Jones and Rapoport, the Giants love Collins as a player. However, they believe the franchise tag number for a safety is too high to justify tagging Collins.
Collins was selected with the 33rd overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft out of the University of Alabama. He is a three-time Pro Bowl selection who served as defensive team captain. Collins finished third in NFL Defensive Player of the Year voting in 2016.
When asked about Collins at last week’s NFL Combine, general manager Dave Gettleman discussed the team’s salary cap space. He also elaborated on why he is reluctant to use the franchise tag in the first place.
“I don’t understand when the tag became such a bad thing for players, but that’s me,” Gettleman said in an interview with nj.com. “Let’s go the conversation of eliminating distractions. You tag a guy, and he’s mad, and that’s all you guys are going to write about. For six months. That’s what’s going to be in (all the papers), on nj.com, that’s what it’s going to be. I have to say to myself, is it worth it?”
The decision on whether or not the Giants use the franchise tag on Collins comes down to economics. If they tagged Collins, it would allocate 40 percent of their remaining 2019 salary cap space to Collins (roughly $11 million). The Giants are set to allocate more than twice that amount ($23.2 million) to quarterback Eli Manning.
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“It’s how the money lays out,” Gettleman said. “For example, right now the number being floated is we have around $25-27 million in cap space. Here’s what you guys need to understand. We don’t have $27 million in cap space. Because you got to go into the season with $8-$10 million in space. Because, if you don’t go into the season $8-$10 million in space, if someone gets hurt, you’re playing a rookie
“You can’t go out and get a veteran. You can’t go into your pro (scouting) guy and say, ‘We need someone because so and so got hurt, because you don’t have any money. It would have to be a practice squad guy or a young guy. That’s what it’s got to be. You can assume the numbers that are out there are close, but you’ve got to save yourself $10 million for the start of the year. Now, that conversation is different. Now you only have $17 million. Nothing can be done in a vacuum.”
Reports surfaced that Collins cleaned out his locker nearly two weeks ago, although he said he only took what he needed. There were also reports that Collins would hold out of offseason workout if he was tagged. Collins is scheduled to miss offseason workouts as he recovers from surgery to repair a season-ending partially torn labrum. Although Gettleman spoke of holdouts, Collins said early in the offseason he wouldn’t hold out despite reports to the contrary.