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Dyer: Pat Shurmur's top priority must be Landon Collins

The Giants' new head coach has to lock down the talented safety for the long haul.
Landon Collins
Landon Collins. (Photo: Getty Images)

Pat Shurmur is (finally) the New York Giants head coach and all bad puns about him being a “Shur Thing” aside, he has inherited quite the rebuilding project. As Shurmur examines his roster and begins to evaluate how to target this offseason, one priority will emerge above all others.

That priority is re-signing Landon Collins.

Above the future of wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and getting him a long-term contract or what to do with quarterback Eli Manning or even how to use the second pick in the NFL draft, the future of Collins with this team is paramount. Without him, there isn’t much of a future for this Giants team.

The Giants safety is the priority of this offseason, a player who may not be the biggest star on this Giants team but is clearly their best performer. In Collins, the Giants have a building block, a franchise player upon which to establish this rebuild and a player who can be the center of the entire defense for another decade. His contract and his future in Giants’ blue should be the top thing Shurmur handles above and beyond anything else.

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Collins is set to enter the final season of his rookie contract, a deal that will pay him just $1.947 million this year. That is a steal in today’s NFL for a player who can and will be a perennial Pro Bowl selection, someone whose career arc might place him as the top safety of his generation and possibly with a bust in Canton, OH someday.

That is all cart-before-the-horse type of stuff. And yet, Collins has that type of future ahead of him if he continues to perform and stay healthy.

He’s averaged triple-digit combined tackles during his first three years in the NFL, adding four sacks and eight interceptions over those three years. There was a time midway through 2016 when he led the Giants in total tackles, sacks and interceptions. That type of performance is other-worldly.

In and of himself, Collins is a centerpiece of the franchise. When taking the full scope of his work into the picture, the re-signing of the safety takes on added importance.

He has been a solid citizen off the field, a workhorse in the locker room and someone only all too eager to lend his name and support to charitable work. On a Giants team that has had multiple suspensions on defense, an alleged “cancer” and an egomaniac wide receiver in their locker room, a player like Collins becomes important. In fact, he’s been vocal about these issues, showing a growing leadership that yes, needs some direction, but he has the makings of being a pillar on this team.

Not just to settle the defense but set the tone.

The more Shurmur delves into his two-deep, the faster he will realize that Collins is the type of player that this locker room should rotate around. Not a player who puts his fist through the wall or parties on a boat a week before the playoffs. Not any of the players who were malcontents during a difficult 3-13 season for this franchise.

Instead, a player like Collins who played much of the last half of the season with a fractured forearm and yet still played and performed. A player that can lead by example and when necessary with words.

A player who is essential to Shurmur’s future with this team and.

A player who is the future of this team.