Washington Redskins safety Landon Collins believes that the New York Giants allowed him to walk earlier this year in part because of the organization's "culture change" and also because he didn't fit their scheme.
Collins, a three-time Pro Bowl player, signed a record six-year deal worth up to $84 million with the rival Redskins as a free agent in March. He told ESPN's Sam Alipour that he thinks the change involved jettisoning players who were too vocal and had expansive non-football platforms.
The Giants traded star wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and pass-rusher Olivier Vernon to the Cleveland Browns this offseason, and Collins said they made no effort to re-sign him. They also traded defensive lineman Damon Harrison and cornerback Eli Apple midway through last season, when the team was struggling badly.
"I know with myself, [Harrison], Odell, [Vernon], all we wanted to do was win, and we spoke up because we had to get them to listen to us," Collins said. "We had to get them to get us winning pieces to help us at least be contenders.
"I think we were too vocal, and that platform was bigger than the Giants, you know, and our words stood out more. And ... if it's not good media, they don't want that kind of media."
Collins also thought there was a stunning lack of communication by general manager Dave Gettleman. He talked glowingly of owner John Mara and was appreciative of their relationship and a text exchange that occurred after his departure, but he didn't have similar feelings for Gettleman.
Collins said the embattled Giants GM "never even talked to me, basically." That left him without a clear explanation of why the team allowed him to leave uncontested.
His complaint is similar to those of some Carolina players when Gettleman was GM there. They said he's all business.
"I wish he'd say something. Try to," Collins said. "I mean, he had come around, shake your hand, say 'Good job, big fella,' or something like that. But honestly, talking to him, or saying anything, having a full conversation or anything with him, nothing.
"I mean, he basically ... I don't know him, he don't know me, that's kind of how it just kind of was."
The Giants have turned over their roster drastically since Gettleman's arrival in the final week of 2017. It is a surprise that Collins and Beckham, two of the team's younger and more talented players, are not in New York anymore. Beckham signed a record contract in the summer of 2018 only to be traded eight months later. That and the trade of Harrison to the Lions for a fifth-round pick in this year's draft were the most surprising to Collins.
"You got the best run-stopper in the game, he went to the Lions and showed his tail off," Collins said of Harrison.
His defense of Beckham was even more impassioned.
"You got OBJ, the best receiver in the game, and you get rid of him because you think he's ... a locker room problem?" he said. "And, knowing him personally, knowing him, how he was as a person and as a brother to me, and a brother to everyone in the locker room, he made sure everybody in the locker room was smiling ... and he went out there to work, each and every day. He didn't say nothing when he came to play in a football game. He didn't say nothing when he came to practice. All he wanted to do was win."
Collins says he is happy in his new home, on a team where he believes everybody can be himself. He feels the Redskins have provided more of a family atmosphere, where the players are around one another more than they were with the Giants.
And he's in a place that wants him.
"I'm on a team that loves me and wanted me here," Collins said. "I think the Giants are going in a different direction with the guys they want, and they feel as though they work better for their scheme."
Collins made the Pro Bowl last season but seemed miscast at times in his first year playing in James Bettcher's defense. The Giants viewed him as more of a strong safety with limitations in coverage and Bettcher likes to use his safeties interchangeably. In their eyes, he wasn't a perfect fit for their scheme. The Giants acquired safety Jabrill Peppers in the trade for Beckham and signed veteran Antoine Bethea (who played for Bettcher in Arizona) this offseason.
Collins will remember his exit from New York for a long time, beginning Sept. 29, when the Giants host the Redskins. That date will be circled.
"I'm gonna circle it for the next six years," Collins said. "Next six."
He also will return to New York to host the Landon Collins Celebrity Softball Game, featuring at least 75 current and former Giants, at Palisades Credit Union Park on June 9.