Cardinals To Decline Zaven Collins’ Fifth-Year Option

Zaven Collins will be a free agent following the 2024 campaign. Cardinals GM Monti Ossenfort revealed that his team won’t be picking up the linebacker’s fifth-year option, per Darren Urban of the team’s website.

Had the Cardinals picked up Collins’ 2025 option, they would have been on the hook for a $13.25MM cap hit. It seems that the lofty financial commitment is the biggest reason why the fifth-year option won’t be picked up, and Ossenfort acknowledged that Collins remains in the organization’s plans.

“We want to keep Zaven around here,” Ossenfort told the “Burns and Gambo” show (via Urban). “It’s just the fifth-year option, it removes some flexibility in terms of the (salary) cap. We’re going to have some discussions here. Love Zaven, love where he’s at, love what he brings for our defense and hopefully (we) keep him around here for a long time.”

The 16th-overall pick in the 2021 draft spent most of his rookie season in a backup role, but he compiled 100 tackles in 16 starts as a sophomore. The Cardinals moved him to outside linebacker for the 2023 campaign, and Collins proceeded to compile 41 tackles and 3.5 sacks while getting into 58 percent of his team’s defensive snaps. Pro Football Focus ended up grading him 44th among 112 qualifying edge defenders, although his pass-rush grade left plenty to be desired.

The Cardinals intend to keep Collins on the edge once again in 2024, meaning the impending free agent could only increase his value with a strong performance. At the very least, Collins will have two paths to joining teams (ILB and OLB) when he hits free agency after the season.

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