- The Washington Times - Monday, March 11, 2019

The Washington Redskins didn’t wait long to make a major splash in free agency.

Hours after the league’s negotiating window opened Monday, the Redskins agreed to sign Pro Bowl safety Landon Collins to a six-year, $84 million deal with $45 million guaranteed — making him, at least for now, the highest-paid safety in football.

Washington will need to make room for Collins as they only have $13 million in salary cap space, according to Over The Cap. The deal cannot become official until Wednesday.

But Collins, in theory, addresses a major need at safety. The three-time Pro Bowler, who spent the first four years of his career with the New York Giants, is a box safety who excels at tackling and making impact plays. In 2016, he was named first-team All-Pro after he finished with 125 tackles, five interceptions and four sacks.

The Redskins, too, have had consistent turnover at the position. Just last season, the team released safety D.J. Swearinger late in the year and safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix was a midseason acquisition that failed to pan out. Reserve safety Montae Nicholson is also a question mark after he was arrested in December for getting into a fight outside a bar. Washington has started 16 different safeties in coach Jay Gruden’s five-year tenure as head coach.

Collins became available when the Giants chose not to use the franchise tag on him last week, which would have kept the 25-year-old in New York for another season. Giants general manager Dave Gettleman has a history of not breaking the bank for defensive players — famously rescinding Josh Norman’s tag in 2016 when both men were in Carolina.

The Redskins cornerback poked fun at his former general manager once the news broke.

“In ‘Gettleman’ WE Trust (All-DBs) securing the [bag],” Norman tweeted Monday, including three money-related emojis.

Collins is the latest Alabama product to join the RedskinsWashington had eight players from the program on its roster last year. Collins should also help provide leadership, as he was a captain in New York.

A Louisiana native, Collins grew up a fan of former Redskins safety Sean Taylor and wore No. 21 in New York to honor him. Before the draft in 2015, Collins said he wanted to be drafted by the Redsins because of Taylor. He’s expected to improve a defense that regressed in 2018. Washington began the season as one of the league’s top units, but ended the year ranked 17th in yards allowed per game (353.4) and 20th in defensive efficiency.

Collins, who had 96 tackles in 12 games last season, was one of the top safeties on the market — and one of the best players overall. NFL.com ranked Collins as the fifth-best available free agent. At $14 million per year, Collins surpassed Kansas City’s Eric Berry (six-year, $78 million) as the league’s highest-paid safety.

Collins‘ deal wasn’t the only big move announced Monday.

The Jacksonville Jaguars and quarterback Nick Foles agreed to terms on a four-year, $88 million deal. Trent Brown became the highest-paid left tackle in football, joining the Oakland Raiders on a four-year, $66 million contract. And Trey Flowers left the New England Patriots, agreeing to a five-year deal with the Detroit Lions.

Former Redskins receiver DeSean Jackson will return to the Philadelphia Eagles, where he spent the first six seasons of his career. The Eagles is set to acquire Jackson in a trade with Tampa Bay and sign him to a contract extension.

The Redskins, meanwhile, will have to say goodbye to receiver Jamison Crowder. Crowder will sign a three-year, $28 million deal with the New York Jets when the league’s calendar year begins Wednesday. Washington will likely replace Crowder with second-year receiver Trey Quinn.

Earlier in the day, the Redskins were reportedly interested in linebacker C.J. Mosley. But it’s unclear if the team can afford the former Baltimore Ravens Pro Bowler after reaching a deal with Collins — given one report estimated Mosley’s salary at $16 million per year.

The Redskins have yet to clear salary cap space, which could be done by releasing players. The NFL Network reported Washington is trying to trade linebackers Zach Brown and Mason Foster, both of whom have been rumored as cap casualties.

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