By Peter Brennan
The Redskins haven’t won many games or NFC East titles in the past few years.
But they have won recognition from ESPN for one of the most unusual contracts in the NFL:
4. Landon Collins, S, Washington
Three-Year Compensation: $45 million
Percent above average: 49.7
Washington really, really wanted to sign Collins this offseason. After moving on from D.J. Swearinger and seeing the Ha Ha Clinton-Dix trade fail to work out, Jay Gruden’s team desperately needed a solution at safety. You could understand why they preferred Collins. The former Giants standout only turned 25 in January, making him the youngest of the free-agent safeties. He has a relatively clean injury history, although he did miss the final four games of 2018 with a torn labrum. The Alabama product has been a dramatic playmaker at times, although much of that leads back to his 2016 season, which is still his best by a considerable margin. Collins also famously idolizes late Washington safety Sean Taylor.
When the Giants turned down the option to stick Collins with the franchise tag for one year at $11.2 million, Washington pounced with a six-year, $84 million deal. Those numbers seemed shocking for a safety, and there was some assumption that the contract specifics would yield a much less impressive deal, but that’s not really the case. Collins is only guaranteed $26 million, but the structure of this deal makes it extremely likely that he will take home that full $45 million figure over three years. (The only way Washington could get away with paying Collins $26 million would be if they cut him after one year, at which point Daniel Snyder & Co. would owe $22 million in dead money.)
How much is $45 million over three years for a safety? Before 2019, the only safety to make more than $33 million in cash over the first three years of his deal was Eric Berry, who was coming off of one of the most impactful seasons a safety has had in the modern NFL. The Collins deal was a huge leap forward for the position, and it helped reset the market for guys like Mathieu and Thomas, who signed shortly thereafter.