Sunday, June 26, 2022

NFL Author Suggests Colts Pursuing Former All-Pro Defenseman

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The Indianapolis Colts lost starting safety Khari Willis to retirement a week after the team’s minicamp concluded. But while he leaves a sizeable gap in the team’s defense, there is still quality collateral in the free-agent market.

Colts editor Kevin Hickey of USA Today named four safeties Indianapolis should consider pursuing in the free hand. Hickey called former All-Pro safety guard Landon Collins “the biggest name on the market in this position.”

Hickey made it clear that signing Collins with the Colts wasn’t very likely. But he still ranked Collins as the top choice for hands-free safety.

“Let’s get that out of the way. That’s unlikely,” Hickey wrote. “Collins is probably too expensive for a rotating role and his skills are probably not worth the money he’s looking for.

“However, he is the biggest name in the market at this position. The former New York Giant and Washington Commander is still a good enforcer near the line of scrimmage.”

The other three safeties that Hickey mentioned as possible considerations for the Colts were Tashaun Gipson, Jaquiski Tartt and Tavon Wilson.

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Hickey noted that even at 28, Collins appears to have past his prime. In the last two years he ended the season on injured reserve.

But in his prime, Collins was a special player.

Collins was a 2016 first-team All Pro with 125 combined tackles, including 9 tackles for loss, 5 quarterback hits and 4.0 sacks. He also posted career bests that season with 5 interceptions and 13 pass defenses. Collins also made it to the Pro Bowl in 2016.

He made it to the Pro Bowl again in 2017 and 2018. But he finished the 2018 season on injured reserve and then the New York Giants, who drafted him 33rd overall in the 2015 NFL Draft, didn’t extend him a second contract. Collins signed with Washington as a free agency.

Collins had 117 combined tackles in 15 games with Washington in 2019. But injuries limited his stat production in 2020 and 2021.

While he’s highly unlikely to return to his caliber in 2016-18, if healthy, Collins could offer a strong veteran presence on the back end of any defense.

As Hickey wrote, Collins isn’t a perfect match for Indianapolis. As a former All-Pro player, he’s probably looking for an expensive contract, and it probably won’t come from the Colts.

Additionally, Indianapolis may not plan to replace Willis with just one player. The Colts signed safeties Rodney McLeod and Armani Watts in free agency and drafted safety Nick Cross in the third round.

Watts is likely to play mostly on special teams, but any new safety the Colts add to the roster ahead of training camp will likely share snaps with McLeod and Cross. Collins is probably better suited for a role in which he plays most of the time.

Hickey also noted that Collins was “a risk” in reporting. The Colts were second to bottom in passing touchdowns allowed and placed in the bottom half of the league in passing yards yield and net passing yards allowed per attempt last year.

Indianapolis has been looking for ways to improve its pass defense. Adding Collins would not help in this area.

But if paired with McLeod and Cross, Collins could be a win against the run. That Focus on professional football Player Ratings ranked Collins as one of the top 10 running defenders for safety last year.

It’s a long road to work with, but Colts general manager Chris Ballard wouldn’t be doing his due diligence if he wasn’t considering signing the 2016 All-Pro safety.

Additionally, Indianapolis may not plan to replace Willis with just one player. The Colts signed safeties Rodney McLeod and Armani Watts in free agency and drafted safety Nick Cross in the third round.



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