Patriots Bring Back Collins
The NFL rumor mill keeps chugging along deep into the offseason, often producing speculative stories about possible player destinations.
We’ve all seen this headline: Could Team X be interested in a reunion with Player Y?
These scenarios are fun to discuss. But hardly ever do they come to fruition.
Two months into free agency, the Patriots pulled off one of those rare moves Wednesday as they signed free agent linebacker Jamie Collins, a source confirmed.
News of the deal first was reported by The Boston Globe.
Collins began his career with the Patriots as a second-round pick in 2013. He rapidly developed into a star player, flashing impressive athleticism on blitzes and in coverage, and looked to be a key piece of the team’s future.
Coming off a Pro Bowl season in 2015, Collins abruptly was traded to Cleveland at the deadline the following October. He was in the final year of his contract, and had underperformed to that point in the 2016 season. Shortly after the trade Collins’ agent, Bus Cook, told Bleacher Report the two sides “never got into any real serious discussions” about a contract extension.
The trade of Collins was controversial at the time, but the 2016 Patriots defense came together down the stretch and the team ending up winning the Super Bowl.
Collins inked a four-year extension worth $50 million with the Browns as the Pats made their playoff run.
The ultra-athletic linebacker lasted through two years of the contract, and Cleveland released him in March. Collins, 29, remained unsigned for more than two months.
Given the Patriots’ depth at linebacker, it’s unclear how Collins would fit. Dont’a Hightower excelled down the stretch of the 2018 season and dominated in Super Bowl LIII. Kyle Van Noy is coming off the best year of his career. Second-year pro Ja’Whaun Bentley showed plenty of promise — and essentially was a starter — before going down with a season-ending biceps injury in Week 3. And Elandon Roberts has made strides in each of his three NFL seasons.
In his first stint with the Patriots, Collins was an every-down player. From 2014-16, Collins was on the field for 92.6 percent of the snaps in games he played (he missed four games in the 2015 season because of an undisclosed illness, but still was voted to the Pro Bowl).
“He’s really a part of everything we do defensively,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said in the summer of 2015. “He’s such a versatile player. He’s in on every different package that we have; every personnel group. He’s a versatile player and a smart player, but I think like all of us, it’s about consistency. It’s that time of year we all need to work on that. Skill-wise, really good and he does a lot of things well.”
This time around, Collins may be looking at a specialized role. He certainly possesses the athletic ability to excel with multiple assignments.
Terms of Collins’ agreement with the Pats have not been disclosed.
The Patriots currently are operating with just over $14 million in cap space, according to the NFLPA’s public cap report.