It has been a long time since a free agent wanted to be a Redskin for reasons other than money. Dan Snyder's cash giveaway caused a cavalry charge to Washington after he became the owner in 1999, but it was all a money grab.
The Redskins haven't been a great team since their last Super Bowl season in 1991. Everything since has been blah at best. A lot of bluster, too many promises and too few victories have followed. After Snyder finally learned he couldn't buy a title and quit spending Monopoly money on free agents, players league-wide suddenly found new places to go.
So it was refreshing when Landon Collins wanted to join the Redskins. He wants to wear No. 21 because the late Sean Taylor was his favorite player growing up. After four years with the New York Giants, Collins made a beeline for Washington when becoming a free agent.
"I jumped on it," said Collins on Thursday when introduced by the Redskins after signing his deal on Wednesday. "I had to be here."
And the Redskins needed someone with options to choose them, too. Collins' affection for the franchise will be infectious. Players can't fake it and just say you're happy to be here (or anywhere) because fans see through it. But fans see Collins as someone who loves them back and that's going to make things fun.
Snyder gave Collins a game jersey of Taylor's as a welcome present. Snyder and Taylor were close before the latter's 2007 death. The owner has been criticized for being too close to players, but that relationship was genuine. And maybe Snyder and Collins will be close, too. There's nothing really wrong with that because Collins can help Snyder learn how to love a team for more than money.
Whether Collins will wear Taylor's No. 21 like the former did in New York in tribute to the safety hasn't been decided. Taylor could only say, "I hope. That's big shoes to fill."
Indeed, Collins takes a risk of being booed by Taylor fans who don't want to see the number used again. Every poor play will bring criticism. It would be easier to wear another number.
But Collins has spent years watching Taylor on film. He has always wanted to be like the fellow safety, who was a two-time All-Pro with speed and jarring hits that made him immortal.
Time will tell if Collins is truly Taylor's successor, or another in a long line of overpaid free agents. But if nothing else, Collins brings a joy to the burgundy and gold that hasn't been seen in decades.
It was worth signing him for that alone.