Landon Collins would be the best offseason addition the Chicago Bears could make
The Chicago Bears had one of the best defenses in all of football this season. Coming into the 2018 offseason, their general manager, Ryan Pace, had the opportunity to put together one of the best defenses of the modern era. By being able to acquire Khalil Mack for pennies on the dollar from Jon Gruden’s Oakland Raiders, Pace had solidified a defense that shocked the entire league.
With Akiem Hicks at nose tackle stopping the run, Mack and Leonard Floyd blitzing off the edge, Kyle Fuller at cornerback, and Eddie Jackson at free safety, the team was oozing with talent. This allowed them to lead the NFL in not only takeaways but overall defensive scoring. Pro Football Focus ranked their secondary the best in the entire league.
The Bears ended up finishing the season at 12-4, winning the NFC North Division with ease. Even though they weren’t able to pull out a win against the Philadelphia Eagles in the Wild Card round, the team proved itself. It can match up with anyone in football. Their Week 14 matchup against the Los Angeles Rams proved that. They held one of the best offenses in football to just six points. How could this defense get any better?
It can. They only weakness the team really had all year defensively is at the strong safety spot. Sure, Adrian Amos filled in the spot adequately, but he was beaten down the middle by tight ends and often didn’t have the best instincts in coverage. He did have two interceptions and 73 tackles on the season, but much of that was the product of playing with such an elite defensive group. With an 82.7 overall PFF rating, he was the lowest player on the entire defense.
The rich could get richer. The Bears should use the remainder of their cap space to go after Landon Collins. A former first-team all-pro, Collins has been stuck in one of the worst secondaries in all the NFL. In 2016, Collins had his best season in the NFL as a sophomore, with four sacks, 125 total tackles, and five interceptions. He’s struggled with injury and a mediocre core of players around him since then.
Coming out of college, he was expected to be a hard-hitting strong safety. His ability in coverage was unheralded, as he’s proved that he can even play free safety with the Giants over the past few seasons.
He’s a free agent this upcoming offseason and deserves to play with a talented group of players. His ability as a two-way safety, someone who can drop back into coverage and stop the run would give Chuck Pagano so much more versatility within their 3-4 defensive scheme. Paired alongside Eddie Jackson, elite quarterbacks might refuse to throw deep knowing that if they miss even by a little bit, Collins and Jackson could expose them and take the ball away.
The Giants could end up franchise tagging him, forcing him to remain with the team moving forward. Collins has shown loyalty to his team so far, as he told 247 Sports:
“My hope is to be here. Honestly. I was drafted here. I want to finish my career here. It’s a hope and a dream of mine. Hopefully, we make it a reality. Would I play on it (the franchise tag)? I’ve got no choice. But it’s not a big concern of mine. I know what I’m capable of. Hopefully, we work something out before that. If not, franchise it is. I’ve just got to continue proving myself.”
The Giants have a lot of money dedicated to players on their roster and could be handcuffed if they don’t tag him. Even so, a franchise tag for a safety is projected at $11.287 million. That isn’t too much for his services, but the contract fully guaranteed and would take a substantial amount out of the Giants’ $30 million in salary cap space.
If Collins becomes an unrestricted free agent, expect the Chicago Bears to pounce to acquire him to complete their dominant defense. They could potentially have one of the best secondaries of all-time.