Collins, who had three years left on his contract, was scheduled to count $16.2 million against the salary cap this season. His release will save Washington $6.6 million against the cap, but he will still count $9.6 million in dead money. According to a source, Washington had tried to work out a deal to lower his cap number.
The news of Collins’ expected release was first reported by NFL Network.
Washington altered Collins’ role early last season, using him in a hybrid safety/linebacker role. That change coincided with improved play by the Commanders’ defense.
In the first six games, most of which featured Collins as the starting strong safety, Washington’s defense — which had a number of other problems — ranked 32nd in scoring and 31st in total yards. In the next six, after Collins had taken over the hybrid role and served as a third safety, Washington’s defense ranked ninth in points and fourth in yards.
Commanders coach Ron Rivera said Collins was a dynamic player in that role. But Collins made it clear that, while he accepted that role, he preferred to be a full-time safety.
Injuries disrupted his past two seasons with Washington. He ruptured an Achilles in Week 7 of 2020 and he missed four games with injuries last season. He was placed on injured reserve for the final three games because of a foot injury.
Washington signed Collins to a six-year contract worth $84 million in the 2019 offseason.
Collins spent his first four seasons with the New York Giants, who selected him in the second round of the 2015 NFL draft. In New York, Collins made three Pro Bowls and was a first-team All Pro in 2016. He did not make a Pro Bowl with Washington.