For weeks, if not months, the general consensus pointed to elite defenders like Landon Collins and CJ Mosley getting tagged by the Giants and Ravens, respectively.
Reports came out on Monday showing that Baltimore does not intend to put the franchise tag on Mosley, and New York won't tag Collins either.
The news from New York comes as a surprise, as most expected the Giants to keep Collins around using the tag. At safety, the franchise tag would have carried an $11 million, fully guaranteed salary for the 2019 season. Collins has been clear that he would not be happy playing on the tag and would skip the Giants offseason workouts if he got tagged.
Maybe those threats worked, or maybe the Giants decided that a long-term deal with Collins wasn't going to happen.
The franchise tag deadline will not hit until 4 p.m. on Tuesday, so until the clock goes final, nothing is a done deal. Still, Collins on the free agent market would have a number of suitors.
Pro Football Talk ranked Collins the No. 8 free agent available this offseason, and five of the players ahead of him on the list have already been franchised.
Collins would be a fit with the Redskins, who have giant holes at safety after releasing DJ Swearinger last season. Without making some salary shedding moves, Washington cannot afford Collins, who will likely be looking for a long-term deal that starts with at least a $10 million salary and a hefty signing bonus.
At his best, Collins is an elite safety. In his second season in the NFL in 2016, Collins made the All Pro team, registering five interceptions and four sacks to go with 125 tackles.
2016 was also the last year Collins played a full 16-game slate. After not missing a game in 2015 and 2016, he's missed five the last two seasons, including the final four games of 2018.
Even with the injury last season, Collins would be a great fit for the Redskins. Another former Alabama star, he's young and a playmaker, even if his numbers the last two seasons don't touch what he did in 2016.
Being a great fit doesn't mean the Redskins can afford Collins though. For Washington to make a run at the Giants star, Bruce Allen will need to start cutting guys to make cap space.
At inside linebacker, Mosley is not as much of a need, but he's still a big-time player.
He's made the last three Pro Bowls for the Ravens, and has only missed three games in his five-year career. He piles up tackles and is a strong leader for the Baltimore defense. He's also another former Alabama star, and young.
But for Washington, it appears the plan is to roll with a different former Alabama star at inside linebacker in Reuben Foster. First the linebacker needs to be taken off the Commissioner's Exempt list, where he landed last fall shortly after signing with the Redskins. Foster's history is complicated, he dealt with two domestic violence accusations in 2018 and also a drug suspension, but when he's on the field, he makes plays.
Mosley seems an unlikely target for Washington.
Jay Gruden's team still has Zach Brown under contract, a speedster linebacker that was great for the club in 2017 but his numbers slipped a bit in 2018 while he dealt with an oblique injury. Brown's hefty 2019 salary makes him a possible cap casualty, particularly considering he was benched late in the 2018 season.
It's also possible Mosley stays in Baltimore, just at a more reasonable price than the franchise tag allows. In the NFL formula, the franchise tag groups all linebackers together, so outside linebackers that collect sacks and pressure quarterbacks get lumped in with the tackling bunch of players that play inside linebacker.
That means the price tag for Von Miller and Khalil Mack drives up the tag for guys like Mosley. And much like running backs, the NFL has started to devalue the playmakers in the middle of defenses.
Don't expect Mosley to move south down I-95 and land in Washington, but never say never either. `
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