Landon Collins is "frustrated" the Giants seem to have no intention of giving him the lucrative, long-term contract he's seeking, according to an NFL source, and he remains unhappy that he is likely to get the franchise tag instead.
And that appears to be the source of the "LockerGate" controversy that erupted late Wednesday afternoon.
Collins may not have cleaned out his locker and said goodbye to his teammates, as an ESPN report said he did, but he has expressed his frustration over his contract situation to several people. The 25-year-old safety seemed to think the Giants were interested in at least discussing a long-term deal this offseason. But there apparently haven't been any serious talks at all.
"He thought he was going to get a contract," said one source who has spoken to Collins about his situation. "He's not going to be happy if he gets the franchise tag, and it looks like that's what will happen."
The decision on whether to use the tag - which is estimated to be worth $11.2 million for one year - has not been made, according to a team source. The window to use the franchise tag opened on Tuesday, but teams don't have to use it before March 5.
Collins' frustration about that uncertainty may be what led to a bizarre series of reports and events on Wednesday, starting with a report from ESPN's Josina Anderson that said Collins "cleaned out his locker today at the team facility and said his goodbyes to teammates, coaches and trainers. It doesn't seem like Collins expects to be a Giant for much longer."
Almost immediately after that report, a source told SNY that Collins' locker was still full, and multiple other outlets reported the same thing. Multiple team sources also told SNY that Collins did not appear to be saying "his goodbyes" after going to the team facility for rehab on his injured shoulder on Wednesday, nor was he cleaning out his locker.
Even David Diehl, a broadcaster and former Giant, tweeted that he saw Collins at the facility and the report wasn't true.
Anderson stood by her report, though, tweeting "Let's see if he returns to grab whatever is 'leftover' in his locker anytime soon." And she appeared to get some support from Collins himself, who responded to a tweet about his locker being full by tweeting "The stuff in that locker that I have left I do not need."
The stuff in that locker that I have left I do not need💯- LANDON COLLINS (@TheHumble_21) February 20, 2019
So it seems Collins took some stuff home - though he did leave some personal items behind, a source said - because he likely won't be back at the facility for a while. The Giants' offseason program can't begin until April 15 at the earliest, and Collins likely won't report to that until he signs his franchise tender - something he may not do right away.
Regardless, none of this is really about what's left in his locker. It's about whether he left the facility believing he'd never return. Only Collins knows for sure, but a team source insisted there was "nothing new" with his contract situation, and that using the franchise tag was still in play.
And no, if the Giants use it, that won't make Collins happy. He told SNY back in November that "Honestly, I don't want it … Why would I want to play under a one-year deal? If something happens I'm not guaranteed. And even though I'm guaranteed that for a year, I'm still not guaranteed."
He did indicate he wouldn't refuse to sign it or hold out, that he'd play under the tag if he had to because - as he reiterated the day after the season ended -- "I got not choice."
Notably, though, he also said "I think we'll work something out before that." But it seems increasingly clear that's not going to happen.
The Giants certainly could use the franchise tag on Collins as a placeholder until they can agree on a long-term contract. But it's possible they've also decided they don't want to give that much money to Collins, coming off shoulder surgery, or to a safety at all.
Their intentions remain unclear. And though this option seems very unlikely, they could still choose not to use the tag on Collins at all. If that's the case, he'll be an unrestricted free agent on March 13 and he'd likely get the contract he's seeking.
On the open market, Collins likely would get a deal somewhere in the range of $55-60 million over five years with $20 million or so guaranteed. The Giants, meanwhile, would be forced to try and replace him with a safety from a lower financial tier.
Then he'd really have to clear everything out of his locker. Until then, he left at least a few things behind because at some point he's likely to come back.