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Landon Collins comes with hidden costs

March 17, 2019

The glow of last week’s Landon Collins signing has been burning bright in Redskinsland, and that’s as it should be. He is a three-time Pro Bowler who it appears really, really wanted to play for the Washington Redskins.

Everyone should feel good about that. For a fan base with a cloud hanging over it 24/7, it was a moment in the sun. Feel good moments are few and far in between.

But as the glow diminishes and it will it’s fair to ask what exactly did the Redskins accomplish by handing the 25-year-old safety a six-year, $84 million contract ($45 million reportedly guaranteed)?

How much better does that spending make the team?

How much ground did they gain on the Dallas Cowboys and the Philadelphia Eagles the two teams ahead of them last season in the NFC East?

How much better is Collins than the guy he replaced?

Who?

It may be a repressed memory, but if the Redskins filled a need with the Collins signing, it was a need they didn’t likely think would exist until December.

That was when the pretty good safety they had signed to a three-year, $13.5 million contract in March 2017 was released because basically, he was so disgusted with the Redskins coaching staff that he couldn’t shut up.

How much better is Collins than D.J. Swearinger?

The question isn’t if Collins is better. He has three Pro Bowls to his credit and going into 2018, he was ranked by Pro Football Focus as the second-best safety in the NFL. Swearinger has none of that on his resume.

However, Collins is coming off the worst season of his four-year career and missed the final four games with a partially torn rotator cuff. Swearinger is coming off perhaps his best season, ranked 13th by Pro Football Focus. Halfway through the 2018 season, he was rated the best safety in the league.

With his signing bonus, Swearinger earned $6.2 million in the two years he was in Washington.

Including his signing bonus, Collins will make $16 million in 2019 alone and another $16 million next season.

Is he that much better than Swearinger?

Collins is also expected to bring leadership skills to the locker room. But more than Swearinger, who was named a team captain the first year he arrived? Swearinger said in an interview on 106.7 The Fan that Jay Gruden blocked him from being named a captain last season.

Look, Swearinger clearly has an authority problem. Washington was his fourth team in six seasons. Now he is back with one of his old teams, the Arizona Cardinals. You can’t keep a player on your team who publicly criticizes his coaches like this, following the Redskins’ 40-16 loss to the Giants in December, the latest of numerous harsh public comments about the coaching staff:

“I can’t tell you what needs to be changed,” Swearinger said. “I ain’t the coach. We ain’t executing. We ain’t getting the job done. That’s the answer they want me to give.”

If Swearinger doesn’t think the coaching staff in Washington stinks, he is still here, and Collins is likely not. The Collins money instead would have been spent on the many other needs this team has.

The Redskins are not getting a shrinking violet in Collins. He is a young man with strong opinions. He doesn’t have a history of ripping his coaches. He saves that for opposing coaches.

When there was speculation in January 2018 that Bill Belichick might consider leaving New England to coach the Giants, Collins weighed. “The way he runs his organization, I’ve been through that process. I don’t like it,” he said, referring to his time under Nick Saban at Alabama. “It’s too strict ... (Belichick’s) a great winner, he’s a great coach. I don’t know if (his style) is what the organization really wants. I talked to guys who played for (his) team. They love winning, but at the same time, they don’t want to be on the team.”

Collins does, though, have a history of taking on his teammates his very public feud with Eli Apple. In an ESPN radio interview in December 2017, Collins was asked about the secondary and what he might tell new coach Pat Shurmur and general manager Dave Gettleman. “There’s one corner that has to establish and needs to grow, and we all know who that is,” Collins said. “That would be the only person I would change out of our secondary group. Besides that, the other two guys, DRC (Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie) and Jackrabbit (Janoris Jenkins), I love those two guys. They play hard. They love what they do. But that first pick? ... He’s a cancer.”

He was clearly referring to Apple, and he may have been right. Apple was dealt by the Giants to the New Orleans Saints for a fourth and seventh-round pick in the 2019 and 2020 draft. But Swearinger may have been right about the Redskins coaches.

Collins has accomplished more than Swearinger, with results that have earned him far more money. But how much more may depend on whether or not Collins winds up just as frustrated with the coaching staff as his predecessor was. If so, will he stay quiet about it?

⦁ Hear Thom Loverro on 106.7 The Fan Wednesday afternoons and Saturday and Sunday mornings and on the Kevin Sheehan Show podcast every Tuesday and Thursday.