The Washington Commanders shocked the NFL world by trading for quarterback Carson Wentz. They acquired Wentz and two draft picks from the Indianapolis Colts in exchange for a 2022 second-round pick, 2022 third-round pick, and a conditional 2023 third-round pick.
The surprising move significantly impacted the front office’s plans for the rest of the offseason. It appears acquiring Wentz will cause Washington to lose veteran safety Landon Collins. The 3-time Pro Bowler will now hit the free-agent market to see if he can get more money elsewhere.
The Commanders are releasing Landon Collins
Landon Collins has three more years on his contract, so he probably wasn’t expecting to be a free agent this offseason. However, that’s precisely what’s going to happen.
According to ESPN‘s John Keim, the Washington Commanders are planning to release Collins to create more salary-cap space.
The Alabama product spent his first four NFL seasons with the New York Giants before signing with Washington in 2019.
Collins recorded 239 tackles, 19 tackles for loss, six sacks, four forced fumbles, and three interceptions in 35 games with the team. He’s dealt with injuries the past two seasons but still had some solid moments during his tenure in Washington.
The trade for Carson Wentz appears to have played a massive role in Collins getting released. Now, the front office must figure out how to replace him.
The 3-time Pro Bowler suggests Carson Wentz trade sealed his fate
When the Washington Commanders traded for Carson Wentz, they agreed to take on his contract from the Indianapolis Colts. The former North Dakota State standout will make $28.3 million during the 2022 season. That’s a pretty big undertaking, forcing the front office to restructure the contracts of other players.
Landon Collins understands that this is a business. Still, he had some interesting comments after news that the team would likely be cutting ties with him.
“They asked me to take a pay cut,” Collins said per CBS Sports insider Josina Anderson. “Then, they asked me to take another one. The money changed after they signed Carson Wentz. I’ll just take my chances in free agency.”
Collins is absolutely right. The money did change. The Commanders are gambling by taking on Wentz’s contract. That comes at the expense of players like Collins, who also have considerable salaries. The veteran safety’s deal would’ve counted $16.2 million against the salary cap if Washington retained him for the 2022 season.
His release will save the team $6.6 million on the cap but will carry $9.6 million in dead money.
Collins’ performance did not match his contract
Like most other players, Landon Collins wasn’t a fan of the idea of taking a pay cut. Then, when the front office asked him to take another one, that was the last straw.
The 28-year-old signed a six-year, $84 million deal with Washington before the 2019 season. Collins had plenty of leverage when negotiating that deal, having earned three straight Pro Bowl selections with the Giants. Unfortunately, the New Orleans, Louisiana native hasn’t enjoyed the same success in Washington.
Collins has been a valuable part of the defense’s run-stopping efforts. However, he’s been a liability in pass coverage. Opposing quarterbacks targeted him 56 times in 2021, and he allowed 43 receptions, which tied for fifth-most in the NFL. Pro Football Focus gave him a grade of 54.7 on the year.
Given his skill set, Collins should consider a full-time switch to linebacker. He doesn’t cover well, nor does he have the speed to keep up with the fast wide receivers in today’s game. The move could extend his career as a starter and ultimately earn him more money down the line.
The Commanders likely made the right move cutting Landon Collins, but the jury is still out on Carson Wentz.
All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference