La'el Collins

Cowboys, La’el Collins Agree To Deal

The Cowboys and La’el Collins have reached agreement on a brand new five-year extension, according to Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports (on Twitter). The new deal will keep Collins under control through the 2024 season. 

It’s a five-year, $50MM add-on that includes $35MM guaranteed, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. That gives Collins the highest guarantee of any right tackle in the NFL. Collins was set to make $8.5MM this year so it’s a six-year, $58.5MM deal in total.

The new deal has been a long time coming, with strong interest on both sides.

“I would love to stay in Dallas my entire career,” Collins said recently. “I love the Cowboys, I love Mr. (Jerry) Jones; I love the Jones family. I love everything about the whole organization and what they’ve done for me as a person and as a player. For me, it’s just all about going out there and taking it one day at a time, and proving myself, proving my worth, showing them that I want to be there by what I do and now what I say.”

Collins ranked as the No. 31 tackle in the NFL last year, per Pro Football Focus, and has looked the part of a top-tier protector at times. Still in his mid-20s, the sky is the limit for the powerful lineman.

The Cowboys have long boasted one of the league’s best offensive lines and they’ve gone to great lengths to ensure that things will stay that way. Not only is Collins inked through 2024 – they’ve also got left tackle Tyron Smith and center Travis Frederick through 2023 and guard Zack Martin through the 2024 campaign.

The Cowboys’ O-Line has helped turn quarterback Dak Prescott and running back Ezekiel Elliott into superstars. Now, after addressing Collins’ deal, it remains to be seen how they’ll handle new contracts for Prescott, Elliott, and the reborn Amari Cooper.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

La’el Collins Wants To Stay With Cowboys

Cowboys offensive lineman La’el Collins is entering the final season of his contract, but if he has his way, he’ll remain with the club for the foreseeable future, according to Herbie Teope of the Advocate.

“I would love to stay in Dallas my entire career,” Collins said. “I love the Cowboys, I love Mr. (Jerry) Jones; I love the Jones family. I love everything about the whole organization and what they’ve done for me as a person and as a player. For me, it’s just all about going out there and taking it one day at a time, and proving myself, proving my worth, showing them that I want to be there by what I do and now what I say.”

A projected first-round pick in 2015, Collins went undrafted after reports indicated he was scheduled to talk with police about the murder of a pregnant woman with whom he was previously involved. Authorities determined Collins had no involvement in the woman’s death, but he wasn’t selected in the draft after his agents indicated he would sit out the season if he were picked after the third round.

The Cowboys eventually landed Collins as an undrafted free agent. The LSU product spent his first two NFL campaigns at left guard, but moved to right tackle in 2017 after longtime Cowboy Doug Free retired. Because he was undrafted, Collins was eligible for an extension after only two pro seasons, and inked a two-year, $15.4MM deal with Dallas in July 2017.

Collins has managed to stay healthy over the past two seasons, and he’s responded with solid production, ranking as the No. 31 tackle in the NFL last year, per Pro Football Focus. The Cowboys have shown a willingness to extend offensive linemen in the past, as left tackle Tyron Smith, center Travis Frederick, and right guard Zack Martin have all received hefty new deals in recent seasons.

However, Dallas also a number of other pending free agents — including quarterback Dak Prescott, wide receiver Amari Cooper, and cornerback Byron Jones — whom it may deem more crucial to the club’s success. If that’s the case, Collins could hit the open market next spring.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Cowboys Notes: Prescott, Cooper, Elliott, Collins, Smith

The Cowboys are fortunate to have a lot of young talent. But one downside that comes with having a lot of young talent, is that sooner or later you have to pay them all. Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, and Amari Cooper are all looking for extensions, and Dallas is going to have to break the bank. Prescott is likely looking to top what Carson Wentz just got, meaning he’ll demand $30MM-plus annually. Quietly, there have been some rumblings that the team isn’t in any rush to extend Elliott. It makes sense because Elliott has the most time left on his deal, but it’s interesting nonetheless. There’s been a lot of concern about how they’ll fit all three players under the cap, but Calvin Watkins of The Athletic writes that you shouldn’t be concerned.

Talking about those key three as well as safety Byron Jones, Watkins writes that the team is “optimistic they can take care of all of them.” Watkins says that the Cowboys did in fact put Elliott on the back-burner before, but that’s no longer the case. “The team no longer believes they can wait on extending him in 2020,” as he could get too expensive by then, Watkins writes. They’re now going to try to lock him up this summer as well, and Watkins does some of the math that shows they should be able to squeeze them all in. Watkins does admit there could be some possible complications, but everything seems on track for the Cowboys to be able to extend all their guys.

  • While the aforementioned four players can all expect to be taken care of, the same can’t be said of offensive lineman La’el Collins. Watkins writes that Collins “could be one player out the door,” in order to make room for the extensions in future years. Collins “is due for a new contract next spring, but Cowboys officials are expected to let him test free agency,” Watkins reports. The team’s right tackle, Collins has started all 16 games each of the last two seasons, so this would be a big departure. Although he’s been reliable, the team has never seemed too enamored with him, so this isn’t shocking. Collins is still only 25 and will be seeking a massive contract next offseason, and it sounds like he could get priced out of Dallas’ range.
  • In the same piece, Watkins also has some news on linebacker Jaylon Smith. Smith was the 34th overall pick in 2016, and normally a 2016 second-round pick would be scheduled for unrestricted free agency next offseason. But because of language in the CBA, Smith will have only accrued three years of service time once this year is over. Smith, of course, was inactive his entire rookie season due to a serious injury suffered toward the end of his college career. Because of this, Smith will be a restricted free agent next spring. A source told Watkins that “the team is expected to place a second-round tender on him.” That means the Cowboys will be able to match whatever offer Smith gets from a team, and if they let him walk that team would have to give Dallas their second-round pick. Most teams aren’t willing to pay that price, which means the Cowboys will likely get Smith back at a discount next year.
  • In case you missed it, Elliott won’t be suspended by the league.

Extra Points: Collins, Peppers, Raiders

Dealing with several young talents’ contract situations, the Cowboys certainly may have to let a couple of their contract-year starters walk. One of those the team may be ready to stomach departing: La’el Collins. Dallas’ starting right tackle is already on his second NFL contract, and it expires after the season. The Cowboys are expected to let Collins depart after 2019, Calvin Watkins of The Athletic notes (subscription required). Joining Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper, Jaylon Smith and Byron Jones as key Cowboys in walk years, Collins would stand to be a key presence on the 2020 free agent market. While Cowboys executive VP Stephen Jones mentioned him as a player the team would like to retain, Watkins adds the team does not want to shell out a big contract to keep him — which obviously means not going near the prices Trent Brown and Ja’Wuan James received in March. This would make sense, with the Cowboys already having three well-paid offensive linemen — Tyron Smith, Zack Martin and Travis Frederick — on their roster.

The Cowboys drafted Connor McGovern in the third round and have 2018 second-rounder Connor Williams set to compete with him and Xavier Su’a-Filo for the left guard position this season. Williams may be in the mix to take over at right tackle next season, should McGovern or Su’a-Filo win this year’s left guard job, per Watkins.

Here is the latest from around the NFL:

  • Julius Peppers wrapped up one of the most successful careers in edge rusher history but will not be leaving the Panthers. The recently retired defensive end will take a job with the Panthers, his title being “special assistant, business operations,” the team announced. It does not sound like the 39-year-old future Hall of Famer will be contributing to the front office’s efforts, but perhaps that type of role could be in his future.
  • Speaking of former players landing on staffs, former Redskins safety Kyshoen Jarrett will break into full-time coaching. Jarrett is now a Redskins defensive quality control coach, per NBC Sports Washington. Suffering a career-ending injury as a rookie, Jarrett worked as a Washington coaching intern last season.
  • In addition to hiring former Cowboys scout Jim Abrams as their new college scouting director, the Raiders added Dwayne Joseph as their pro scouting director, Scott Bair of NBC Sports Bay Area notes. Joseph spent the past four years in the same role with the Eagles and was a Bears staffer prior to that. With Mike Mayock retooling Oakland’s scouting department, more hires are on the way.
  • The Broncos will no longer have a Kubiak on their staff. After Gary and Klint Kubiak left for the Vikings, one of Gary’s other sons — Klein Kubiak — will not be part of the Broncos’ staff going forward. Klein Kubiak worked as the team’s southeast area scout, but his contract was not renewed, per Nicki Jhabvala of The Athletic (on Twitter). Frantzy Jourdain will fill the position. Jordan spent the past three years with Houston, serving as first an area scout and then a national scout, and the previous 13 in New England. The Texans parted ways with Jourdain last month.

Cowboys OT La’el Collins Underwent Surgery

Cowboys offensive tackle La’el Collins underwent surgery this offseason to repair a torn rotator cuff, reports Clarence E. Hill Jr. of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. The team is expected “to be cautious” with Collins through OTAs and minicamp, but he’s expected to be healthy for training camp in July.

The lineman joins a growing list of notable Cowboys players who underwent offseason surgery. After inking a lucrative new deal with the team, Demarcus Lawrence underwent surgery on a torn labrum. While the pass-rusher is focused on being ready for the start of the regular season, Hill cautions that the four-to-six month recovery time means he may not be back until October.

Starting cornerback Byron Jones also underwent hip surgery back in March. He’s expected to start training camp on the physically unable to perform list.

Collins joined the Cowboys as an undrafted free agent back in 2015, and he’s emerged as a key piece on the team’s offensive line. He started all 32 regular season games over the past two seasons, including a 2018 campaign where he ranked 31st among 80 eligible offensive tackles (per Pro Football Focus). The 25-year-old is heading into the final year of his contract.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC East Rumors: Cowboys, Giants, Guice

Dez Bryant remains on the Cowboys‘ roster, but a decision about his contract could come soon. Jason Garrett said Sunday night he has not yet met with Bryant and doesn’t know if Jerry Jones has either this offseason, per Charean Williams of Pro Football Talk. While Garrett was concise in his Bryant response, Williams writes that a Bryant decision — one that recently was said to lack a clear timetable — sounds like it’s coming soon. Garrett wants this resolved quickly, per Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram (on Twitter).

I have not met with Dez,” Garrett said at an event earlier tonight. “Dez is on our football team, and again, we talked about some of the moves we made at the receiver position, and they’re designed to create competition there. We think that’s going to help everybody on our team.”

Obviously not a firm commitment to the player that’s been the team’s No. 1 wide receiver for most of this decade, the Cowboys are hesitant about paying Bryant $12.5MM in base salary this season. He’s due to count $16.5MM toward Dallas’ cap. The Cowboys added both Allen Hurns and Deonte Thompson this offseason and have Terrance Williams and Cole Beasley on the roster as well. Jones indicated the draft is also a possibility, and Williams writes the Cowboys have shown interest in Calvin Ridley and SMU’s Courtland Sutton. Each was on the team’s pre-draft visit list, as was Maryland’s D.J. Moore. The Cowboys are scheduled to convene for their offseason program April 16.

Here’s more out of Dallas and the latest from elsewhere in the NFC East.

  • La’el Collins changed positions during the 2017 offseason, and it looks like the Cowboys aren’t going to shift him away from him second NFL spot just yet. But the team did sign Cameron Fleming this offseason. Collins said Sunday night, via Hill (on Twitter) he will remain at right tackle. While adding the caveat that he would move back to guard if the team wanted him to, in a possible best-five-linemen scenario where he returns to left guard and Fleming takes his right tackle spot, his focus heading into his fourth season will be improving as a tackle.
  • Saquon Barkley and Baker Mayfield dined with Giants brass on Sunday night and both will spend Monday meeting with the team’s coaching staff and front office personnel, per Paul Schwartz of the New York Post. Both the Penn State running back and Oklahoma quarterback are among a high-profile contingent traveling to the Big Apple, joining Sam Darnold, Josh Allen and Josh Rosen in that regard. Schwartz no longer expects the team to draft a quarterback at No. 2, which would put Barkley and Bradley Chubb in play there. A trade-down scenario for Quenton Nelson may also be under consideration.
  • Odell Beckham Jr. taking the step of pledging he’ll attend Day 1 of the Giants’ offseason program is important for the parties’ potential long-term agreement, Ralph Vacchiano of SNY.tv writes. But Vacchiano adds Beckham’s gesture may be a symbolic one, with the superstar wideout possibly opting to work out in Los Angeles soon. He’s still recovering from a fractured ankle and remains without a timetable for a field return.
  • The Redskins like Derrius Guice, Rich Tandler of NBC Sports Washington notes, but Jay Gruden was somewhat dismissive of an early-round running back choice at the most recent league meetings. However, the fifth-year coach — perhaps in full-smokescreen mode — said he would like to add possibly a between-the-tackles runner this offseason. Like Leonard Fournette before him, Guice (32 receptions while at LSU) qualifies as such. Washington doesn’t hold a third-round pick because of its Alex Smith trade, so the team would have to be fairly serious about a backfield upgrade if it selects a ball-carrier before Draft Saturday. Guice is a projected first-round pick whose only known visit has been with the Ravens.

Cowboys Adjust OL La’el Collins’ Contract

The Cowboys have adjusted offensive lineman La’el Collins‘ contract in order to create additional cap space, according to Field Yates of ESPN.com (Twitter link).La'el Collins (vertical)

Collins will see $500K of his salary for the 2018 season converted into a signing bonus, allowing Dallas to spread that amount out over the next two years. It’s a small deal, and one that will only create $250K in extra cap room. But it’s a transaction that makes sense for the Cowboys, who rank in the bottom half of the NFL with about $18.6MM in reserves.

For Dallas, the move doesn’t carry much additional risk, as Collins is a near certainty to be on the team’s roster through 2019. Collins, 24, was projected as a first-round pick in the 2015 draft before his being linked to a murder investigation — one in which he was fully cleared — caused his stock to tumble. He eventually latched with the Cowboys as an undrafted free agent, and inked an extension last summer that will keep him under contract through 2019.

Collins played guard during his first two seasons in the NFL, but was transferred back to his natural tackle position following Doug Free‘s retirement prior to the 2017 campaign. Last year, Pro Football Focus graded Collins as the No. 56 tackle among 83 qualifiers.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Cowboys Notes: Whitehead, Lewis, Collins

Lucky Whitehead was unfortunately waived by the Cowboys following a case of mistaken identity, but the receiver/special-teamer had run afoul of club rules before, according to Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com (Twitter link). Whitehead had been accused of being “flighty with the truth,” and was “unaccountable” with the Dallas’ coaching staff. Last year, for instance, Whitehead reportedly slept through a Saturday walkthrough and was left home for a game against the Giants. While Whitehead certainly could have had his issues off the field, it’s also possible the Cowboys are leaking negative information on Whitehead given that it was their lack of follow-up that resulted in Whitehead’s release.

Here’s more on Whitehead and the rest of the Cowboys’ roster:

  • The NFLPA is conducting an investigation into Whitehead’s ouster and before it decides whether to take further action, as Ed Werder tweets. Whitehead, for his part, is understandably angry about how the situation played out, writes Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News. “Let’s not sugarcoat anything,” Whitehead said. “I was pretty much being called a liar.” Now on waivers, Whitehead can be claimed by any of the other 31 NFL teams between now and tomorrow.
  • A Michigan jury has found Cowboys third-round corner Jourdan Lewis not guilty on both domestic violence and assault/battery counts, reports Michael Rothstein of ESPN.com. Viewed as one of the top slot cornerback prospects in this year’s draft, Lewis fell to the 92nd overall selection following an alleged March altercation with his girlfriend. Now cleared, Lewis should be able to report to camp and compete for sub package snaps.
  • As part of his two-year, $15.4MM extension, offensive lineman La’el Collins will receive a $4MM signing bonus and $9.5MM fully guaranteed overall, according to Todd Archer of ESPN.com. Collins will earn base salaries of $1MM and $4.5MM in 2017 and 2018, respectively. In 2019, Collins’ base salary is $6MM, but can increase to $8.5MM if he plays at least 85% of Dallas’ offensive snaps in each of the next two campaigns, per Archer.
  • Dallas defensive end David Irving offered an explanation for his four-game PED suspension today, blaming the ban on a “hidden ingredient” in a workout drink, per Brandon George of the Dallas Morning News“I started taking it after the season when you’re not working out with the team, you know, something to get my a– in the gym,” said Irving. “It’s funny, I thought I was hitting a second puberty.” Irving, 23, appeared in 15 games for Dallas last season and developed into a serviceable pass rusher, especially near the end of the year. All told, he managed four sacks and 17 tackles while grading as the league’s No. 29 interior defender, per Pro Football Focus
  • Offensive lineman Byron Bell earned his second $150K bonus of the offseason by making weight on the first day of Cowboys training camp, reports Archer. Bell scored the same weight bonus when minicamp began, and will collect a third bonus during the first week of the regular season. Signed to a one-year deal in March, Bell will also earn a $1MM base salary, a $250K signing bonus, and $300K in per-game roster bonuses. The 28-year-old is in contention to serve as the top reserve lineman on one of the league’s best front fives.

Cowboys, La’el Collins Agree To Extension

The Cowboys and offensive lineman La’el Collins have reached agreement on a new deal. It’s a two-year, $15.4MM extension that will keep him in place through the 2019 season, a source tells Mike Garafolo of NFL.com (on Twitter). La'el Collins (vertical)

Collins would have been a restricted free agent following the 2017 season. With the new contract, Collins has traded in that one RFA year plus his first year of scheduled unrestricted free agency. The Cowboys theoretically could have controlled Collins through the 2019 season with the franchise tag, but by extending him now, they have given themselves cost certainty while leaving the tag available for another star player.

The new deal gives Collins a $7.7MM average annual salary in the additional two seasons, which currently would represent the second-highest AAV of any right tackle in the NFL.

Collins was expected to be a first round pick and potential top ten pick in the 2015 draft. However, he went undrafted after he was linked to the shooting death of a pregnant woman and his agent that he would hold out if he were selected beyond the third round. Once he was cleared of any wrongdoing, he signed with the Cowboys on a modest three-year contract worth roughly $1.6MM. Collins’ new contract will him like a first round pick and reflects the tremendous production he has provided at the professional level.

Collins excelled at left guard as a rookie and was slated to hold down the position again in 2016 before a foot injury ended his season after three games. This year, the 6’5″ lineman will be shifting over to right tackle. It’s a return to Collins’ roots as he started at left tackle for LSU in the 2013 and 2014 seasons.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Notes: OBJ, Rodgers, E. Decker, Lions

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Wednesday morning that Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. has been away from OTAs because he wants a new contract. That isn’t the case, according to The Record’s Art Stapleton, as a source told him that Beckham’s absence amounts to nothing more than a player exercising his right to skip voluntary workouts. Regardless of where the truth lies, the Giants are motivated to keep the 24-year-old superstar for the long haul. Contract negotiations haven’t begun yet, co-owner John Mara revealed Tuesday, but he added, “Obviously we want him to be a Giant for the rest of his career.”

More from the NFC:

  • Even though he has fallen to fifth among quarterbacks in average yearly salary ($20MM), the Packers’ Aaron Rodgers isn’t pushing for a raise. At the same time, the 33-year-old realizes a contract extension might be around the corner. “Well, that stuff usually takes care of itself, and I have a fantastic agent, he does a great job. He worries about that stuff,” Rodgers said Tuesday (via Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com). “When it comes to setting the market values, I let that stuff take care of itself. I know my value in this league, and I know the team appreciates me. I’m going to continue to make myself an indispensable part of this roster. When you do that, when your time comes up to get a contract, you usually get a contract extension.” With his deal on track to expire after the 2019 season, extension talks between the Packers and Rodgers could begin soon, observes the Associated Press, which notes that cap room won’t be an issue for the club when it comes to locking up the two-time MVP.
  • With Eric Decker‘s Jets tenure on the verge of ending, the Lions would be wise to add the receiver, opines Michael Rothstein of ESPN.com. Decker’s history of quality production would continue as part of Detroit’s Matthew Stafford-led offense, argues Rothstein, who points out that Decker is familiar with coordinator Jim Bob Cooter from their time together in Denver in 2013. Further, given that the Lions only found the end zone 54.2 percent of the time in the red zone last year, acquiring the tall, touchdown-scoring Decker would be a boon. Of course, the Lions might have to win a bidding war for Decker, which isn’t a guarantee considering they’re toward the bottom of the league in cap space (just over $9MM).
  • With La’el Collins moving from left guard to right tackle, the Cowboys will need someone to take over his previous position. That could be tackle Chaz Green, who has been working as the Cowboys’ first-team left guard during OTAs, according to Brandon George of the Dallas Morning News. Green, whom injuries have limited to four appearances in two seasons, told George that the Cowboys approached him about changing positions last week. The 2015 third-round pick is embracing the move, saying: “It’s an opportunity with the ones [first team]. I don’t care where I am. I just want to put my best foot forward and show that I cannot drop off when I’m out there and better yet help the team when I’m out there.”