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Landon Collins clears out Giants locker (at least of things he wants)

He is not quite the prototypical deep centerfield free safety, but he is an intriguing talent. The big question for now is if the Giants will franchise him.

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The NFL franchise tag window opened on Tuesday, and while nobody has formally announced their use of the franchise tag, there are several teams expected to use it. One such decision belongs to the New York Giants.

Safety Landon Collins finished up his rookie contract this past season, and could head into free agency as one of the top defensive backs on the market. The Giants do not have another significant option for the franchise tag, and have the cap space to handle the $12,037,000 franchise tender that comes with the safety position.

However, as is often the case with the franchise tag, it is likely to be a contentious relationship. On Wednesday, ESPN’s Josina Anderson reported that Collins had cleared out his locker. Giants beat writer Paul Schwartz reported countered that, saying he had not cleaned out his locker. Collins responed to that directly.

It could just be a matter of a player cleaning out his locker at the end of the season like many do, and moving on. However, Anderson’s tweet also said, “It doesn’t seem like Collins expects to be a Giant for much longer, per sources.” Collins did not confirm or deny that part, so make of it what you will.

If the Giants do not tag Collins, and he does hit free agency, he should have a robust market. Fans quickly broached the topic of the 49ers having interest. He would be best suited as an in-the-box thumper. He technically played some free safety, but far and away his best work came as a run-stopper. Pro Football Focus ranked him third in run stop percentage out of 86 qualifying safeties. They also ranked him 91st out of 100 safeties in coverage snaps per reception. He’s a fantastic run stopper, and fairly abysmal in coverage.

The 49ers currently project to have Adrian Colbert starting at free safety and Jaquiski Tartt starting at strong safety. The team could add Earl Thomas or other options to compete with Colbert and potentially D.J. Reed at free safety. Marcell Harris will compete with Tartt at strong safety.

The 49ers have needs in the secondary, but personally I would love to see Harris getting the top crack at pushing Tartt for the starting strong safety role. And even if Harris loses out, he could provide that first DB off the bench when the team goes with a bigger nickel defense. Landon Collins is young and makes sense as an option, but given the kind of contract it would require, it makes sense for the 49ers to invests their resources a little different. If they want to convert him into a hybrid linebacker, that’s certainly an option, but again, it seems like they could do more with the kind of money Collins will cost them.