News broke today by NFL insider Adam Schefter, that the New England Patriots have traded LB Jamie Collins to the Cleveland Browns. In return, New England will receive a third-round draft pick. The team and Collins’ camp were reportedly having a tough time working out a long-term deal, as the 27-year old is set to be a free agent this offseason.
Collins has been considered one of the best LBs in the game, and over the last few seasons, his stock has grown steadily. He has the ability to rush freely for a sack, fill a hole in the run game, and cover some tight ends. His versatility made him extremely sought after, which is likely why the trade was made. If he hit free agency, the Patriots likely felt they were out of the race, or they would have to pay way more than they were willing to go.
He was fourth on the team in tackles (43), first in interceptions (2), and tied for first in forced fumbles (1). The LB core, as a whole, has dealt with a lot over the past two seasons. Jerod Mayo’s retirement last season passed on leadership to Collins and Dont’a Hightower. Fans in New England expected to see those two on the field for a very long time together. Unfortunately, they have both dealt with injuries in their short careers. They haven’t been on the field at the same time all that often.
With all of the movement at the position this season, the Patriots are left with Hightower, Shea McClellin, Elandon Roberts, Barkevious Mingo, and Kyle Van Noy (just acquired from Detroit). With the exception of Roberts, all of these were highly touted prospects entering the NFL. New England is going to need them to live up to their draft position.
Looking at this trade, I am upset with what the team has done since 2014. It stems back to the decision to release CB Darrelle Revis. Hindsight is 20/20 in this scenario, because Revis ended up falling off hard, but the point still remains. The Patriots let Revis go after winning the Super Bowl, stating there were three key guys that needed to get signed. They were referring to DE Chandler Jones, LB Jamie Collins, and LB Dont’a Hightower.
Flash-forward to this past offseason. New England trades away Chandler Jones to the Arizona Cardinals for G Jonathan Cooper and a second-round pick in this year’s draft. The team then traded that second-round pick for a third-round and a fourth-round pick. With those picks, New England drafted G Joe Thuney and WR Malcom Mitchell. Thuney and Mitchell have played pivotal parts this season, however, I believe, as a whole, this offensive line isn’t much better from last year. Not to mention they ended up cutting Jonathan Cooper.
Now, this move happens. Two years removed from saying we want to keep all of these guys, there is only one remaining: Dont’a Hightower. The Patriots have the cap-space to keep all of these guys, so unless they have some type of wink-wink deal with Collins for free agency, this makes little sense. Also, the Patriots better focus on re-signing Malcolm Butler and Martellus Bennett now.
I honestly can’t believe that just happened.