If the Giants do use the franchise tag on Landon Collins, he'll have little realistic choice but to eventually sign it. And when he does, he'll be guaranteed about $11.2 million over the next year. Considering Collins made about $6.1 million in the first four years of his NFL career, that seems like a pretty good deal.
So why has that made the 25-year-old safety unhappy?
Because he could get more. A lot more.
Based on conversations with multiple NFL agents and team officials, Collins probably would get a five-year deal worth at least that much per season if he were allowed to become an unrestricted free agent. Depending on the number of teams after him, he could get a five-year contract worth $60 million (about $12 million per season).
And here's the important part for Collins: That contract likely would include more than $20 million guaranteed.
That's not at all unrealistic for a young player who has made three Pro Bowls in his first four seasons, and who has emerged as a leader and perhaps the best defensive player on his current team. Even though the free-agent safety pool currently looks deep, there are a lot of teams that likely would want to sign him.
Here's a look at five teams that likely would pursue Collins if the Giants were willing to let him walk away:
Jerry Jones admitted a few days ago the Cowboys are looking at free-agent safeties. The object of their affection has long been Earl Thomas. They tried to trade for him last September, and they'll surely go after him now that he's going to be a free agent.
But throw Collins into the mix and the Cowboys would surely see he's a better option. Thomas is about to be 30, is coming back from a second serious leg injury in the last two years, and has missed 19 of his last 48 games with injuries. He's also talked about retiring.
Surely Jones would rather throw big money at a younger, more durable player like Collins. As a bonus, he'd get to hurt his division rival.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Bucs were hot after Collins at the trade deadline last year, offering a third-round pick to the Giants, a source told SNY. They weren't making an offer like that with the intention of renting him in a lost season. They wanted Collins to be part of their future.
So if he was free, they'd surely be one of the first teams to call. Suddenly their strong pass rush, led by ex-Giant Jason Pierre-Paul, would have some back-end support.
Kansas City Chiefs
They've already got a ton of money tied up in Eric Berry, but they still tried to trade for Collins at the deadline. And now their new defensive coordinator is Steve Spagnuolo, who was Collins' defensive coordinator for his first three seasons with the Giants. Sounds like a perfect match.
Given that Collins' best years came under Spags -- and one was an All-Pro year (2016) -- there would surely be mutual interest.
San Francisco 49ers
It's safe to assume that 49ers GM John Lynch has an appreciation for the value of good safety play, right? The San Fran secondary is a pretty big mess outside of cornerback Richard Sherman, and their safeties aren't good at all. They've got a strong front and will likely add a pass rusher with the No. 2 overall pick. Add Collins to the back end and their defense is suddenly a force.
They traded for Ha Ha Clinton-Dix last season and he was pretty inconsistent for them. Still, since they cut their other safety, D.J. Swearinger, in late December after he criticized the defensive play calling, they probably don't have much of a choice but to re-sign him.
If Collins was on the market, though, they'd surely see he's a better safety, and that the money might not be much different. Plus, you know Dan Snyder would love to steal one of the Giants' best players away.