WASHINGTON — It's official. Landon Collins is coming to Washington to live his dream -- play the same position for the same team that once featured the late, great Sean Taylor, Collins' idol growing up.
Amid pomp and pageantry at the team's Ashburn headquarters Thursday, the free-agent safety agreed to a reported, six-year, $84 million contract with the Redskins, making Collins the highest-paid free safety in the NFL.
In a move by the team that hearkened back to the free-spending, offseason days of yore, Collins' contract will include $45 million in guaranteed money. The Redskins last inked a player to an exorbitant contract like that in 2009, when Albert Haynesworth agreed to a record, seven-year, $100 million deal -- $41 million of which was guaranteed. Haynesworth played just 20 games for Washington, his deal still acknowledged as one of the worst free agent signings in NFL history.
Why Washington for Collins, where the former New York Giants' safety will have to play his former team at least twice a year? Collins wants to emulate Taylor, whom he has admired since he was a young teen.
"My high school coach said 'We could put you at DB, corner or safety,'" said Collins in an interview with ThePostGame. "I said 'Cool.' So I looked up some of the best safeties in the game. First name that popped up: Sean Taylor. I was like damn, let me look up him. I started watching his film. I was like, wow. From that point on, I've always been a Sean Taylor fan."
Team owner Daniel Snyder, knowing Collins' fondness for Taylor, presented the free agent a game-worn, No. 21 jersey -- signed by Taylor -- the day before he was introduced at the team's headquarters in Ashburn.
“Honored by Mr. Snyder aka Dan,” Collins, who has idolized Taylor since high school, wrote on Instagram. “This is unreal. #ripseantaylor.”
Collins won't wear the No. 21 jersey. It hasn't been retired but no player has worn that number since November 26, 2007, the day Taylor was shot in his home by burglars. He died from his wounds a day later. Now more than 10 years removed from the tragedy, Taylor has become somewhat of a cult hero among the team's fans.
Also from The Post, "On Instagram, Collins reposted an illustration the NFL tweeted depicting him in a No. 27 Redskins jersey. While recently re-signed running back Adrian Peterson owns No. 26, Collins could opt for Taylor’s rookie number. The No. 36 jersey was most recently worn by fellow safety and Taylor admirer D.J. Swearinger, who was released for insubordination in December."
In four seasons with the New York Giants, Collins totaled 437 tackles, four sacks, eight interceptions, three forced fumbles, one touchdown and 32 passes defended. The first pick of the second round in 2015, Collins is a three-time Pro Bowler. He became a free agent when the Giants elected not to franchise tag Collins for the 2019 season.
That salary will give Collins an average annual salary of $14 million per year, making him the highest-paid safety in the NFL. Eric Berry of the Kansas City Chiefs previously had set the market with an average of $13 million.
Whether it's an omen or just a coincidence, Washington is also infamous for giving Adam Archuleta the largest free-agent, safety contract in history in 2006. He lasted one year with the team and became an instant bust.