The Pittsburgh Steelers are considered a “top” fit for one of the best free agents on the market.
According to Bleacher Report’s Ian Wharton, the Steelers are one of three teams — the Chicago Bears and the Green Bay Packers being the others — that are considered the “best fits” for safety Landon Collins. Wharton explains how the 28-year-old can excel as a sub-package weapon.
“Collins is at his best as a downhill safety who operates more like a linebacker,” says Wharton. “He’s not good in man coverage, but as the NFL has embraced three-safety looks more, Collins has enjoyed a resurgence in potential value over the last two years. There aren’t many roster openings left, so he may need to be a super-sub-package weapon.”
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Collins Failed to Live up to Big Contract
The three-time Pro Bowler (2016, 2017 and 2018) signed a big deal with the Washington Commanders prior to the start of the 2019 season, inking a six-year, $84 million contract. However, his $16.2 million cap hit for the upcoming season was too much to justify his actual performance. The Commanders released Collins back in March.
Collins earned a shade over $16.5 million during the 2021 season as the league’s second-highest paid safety.
According to Pro Football Focus, the veteran safety posted just a 54.7 defensive grade and an absolutely dreadful 38.8 grade in coverage last season. For perspective, Collins was one of the eight worst safeties in defensive grade and ranked dead last in coverage among players with at least 600 snaps on the season.
Although Collins was arguably the league’s worst safety in coverage last season, he absolutely excels near the line of scrimmage. The veteran safety posted an 82.5 run defense grade and a 74.0 grade when rushing the quarterback, according to PFF. His run defense grade ranked seventh and his pass-rushing grade ranked 17th among all safeties.
Why the Steelers May Avoid Signing Collins
Wharton explains how Collins could fit in as a key piece on a rebuilding squad or a key contributor on a contending team.
“Only 28 years old, Collins should draw interest from a number of franchises,” says Wharton. “Rebuilding teams could get one of their finest seasons yet in 2022 and retain him. Playoff contenders could surely use his upside in a depth role.”
The Steelers are not in desperate need of a safety at the moment. In fact, they recently signed free safety Minkah Fitzpatrick to the richest deal for a safety in NFL history (four years, $73.6 million).
Pittsburgh also re-signed strong safety Terrell Edmunds — who has served as a Steelers starter since the 2018 season — in the offseason and signed former Dallas Cowboys starting safety Damontae Kazee for depth purposes.
As Wharton mentions, Collins would have to fit in on the Steelers’ defense as sub-package safety. Andrew Falce of Still Curtain explains how Collins can be used as a safety near the line of scrimmage when covering the tight end in man coverage or when rushing the passer.
“Where Collins has fallen off recently is in coverage,” explains False. “While he doesn’t have the best ability to cover one on one, he can serve as an option to cover tight ends if need be. That said, the more zone coverage he is in, the more of a liability he becomes. When in the box, he can make plays in the running game and as a blitzer though. He would serve in the role of Steelers typically like their strong safety to serve in.”
If the Steelers are looking for an extra veteran safety, Collins could be useful. But considering the Steelers already have two veteran safeties entrenched as starters with one veteran safety projected as a backup, it seems unlikely Pittsburgh will target Collins.
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