The Patriots are trading linebacker Jamie Collins to the Browns, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter). In return, New England will receive a compensatory third-round pick. The deal has been confirmed via press release.
Recently, the Patriots made a team-friendly extension offer to Collins, but they were rebuffed. The Pats likely didn’t think that they could work out a new deal with the pending free agent, leading them to today’s trade. Of course, New England has a number of key players to take care of, including Martellus Bennett, Malcolm Butler (restricted free agent), Dont’a Hightower, and Logan Ryan. Had the Patriots waited for Collins to sign elsewhere in the offseason, their compensatory pick would have come in 2018.
The Browns, meanwhile, have been stockpiling draft picks in unprecedented fashion and they used one of those selections today to acquire one of the league’s top outside linebackers. Through seven games, Collins has 43 tackles, one sack, three passes defensed, and two interceptions. The advanced numbers at Pro Football Focus have Collins ranked as the No. 9 linebacker in the NFL this year with roughly even grades for his run defense and coverage.
Presumably, the Browns are going to try and lock up Collins on a long-term deal. Cleveland can utilize the franchise tag to keep Collins for the 2017 season and he’s probably the team’s best candidate for that designation.
We haven’t heard any trade rumors involving Collins this week and the deal comes as a complete shock. No one anticipated that the Patriots would deal one of their best defenders this week and no one expected the rebuilding Browns to acquire a bonafide star prior to the deadline. There has been lots of talk about Cleveland moving key veterans like Joe Thomas, but it’s possible that the Browns could continue in buyer’s mode for the next 24 hours.
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