Despite trading either a 2017 compensatory third-round pick or a 2018 fourth-rounder to the Patriots on Monday for linebacker Jamie Collins, an impending free agent, the Browns aren’t showing much urgency to lock him up. The team and Collins’ agent, Bus Cook, have not engaged in any substantive contract talks yet, reports CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora, who adds that it’s possible those discussions won’t take place at all.
While La Canfora ultimately expects the Browns to either re-sign Collins or place the ~$15MM franchise tag on him before free agency opens, one rival executive told him the 0-8 club is content to let the 27-year-old walk after the season and receive a compensatory third in 2018 in return. Should that happen, it would essentially make the Browns’ trade with the Pats a wash. Thanks to the free agent departures of offensive linemen Alex Mack and Mitchell Schwartz last offseason, the Browns are likely to net a compensatory third for 2017. If they do, it’ll go to New England.
“That tells me the owner still might not be spending any money and they might not sign any UFAs (unrestricted free agents) again. What they’re saying internally is that if we don’t re-sign him we’ll get the pick back the next year,” said the exec.
Collins, a Pro Bowler last year and one of the NFL’s premier linebackers, is reportedly looking to top Panthers standout Luke Kuechly‘s $12.36MM average annual value on his next contract. That’s probably not ideal for Browns owner Jimmy Haslam, but his franchise is nearly $50MM under the salary cap this year and will enter the offseason with upward of $64MM in breathing room. Although the Browns are rebuilding, their spending space has to go somewhere, and it stood to reason at the time of the Collins trade that a sizable chunk of it would go to him. Now, it seems that’s far from a sure thing.
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