La’el Collins

Nine Teams Gain Cap Space From Post-June 1 Cuts

Although early June no longer serves as a stretch in which a wave of veterans are released for cap-saving purposes, June 2 still serves as an important calendar date for certain teams annually. Nine teams qualify as beneficiaries this year.

Eleven players were designated as post-June 1 cuts this year, via CBS Sports’ Joel Corry. Due to a longstanding CBA provision, teams that designate players as post-June 1 releases see the dead-money burden lessened for that year. Teams can designate up to two players as post-June 1 releases each year.

Here are 2022’s post-June 1 cuts, along with the belated cap savings the teams picked up Thursday:

Arizona Cardinals

Chicago Bears

Cleveland Browns

Dallas Cowboys

Las Vegas Raiders

Philadelphia Eagles

Seattle Seahawks

Tennessee Titans

Washington Commanders

As detailed in PFR’s glossary, post-June 1 cuts spread dead-money hits over two years. These teams will be taking on dead money this year and next. A few of the 2023 hits are substantial, but the league’s cap-space hierarchy changed significantly Thursday as well.

Because of multiple restructures, Raiders will carry $9.9MM in Littleton dead money next year. The Cowboys will take on $8.7MM in 2023 for cutting Collins, while the Titans will be hit with $8.4MM for their Jones release. Cleveland, which just gave David Njoku a $14.2MM-per-year deal, will carry a $7.5MM dead-money cost next year due to shedding Hooper’s eight-figure-AAV deal early. The Eagles will be tagged with $11.5MM for their Cox cut, with Corry noting that is the net difference because of a $3.2MM salary cap credit regarding Cox’s 2022 bonus proration. Philadelphia re-signed the perennial Pro Bowler on a one-year, $14MM deal.

Hooper’s release pushes Cleveland’s cap space to beyond $40MM; the Browns’ overall cap-space edge is now a whopping $15MM. That should help the team address multiple needs ahead of training camp. Other teams have more options now, too. As of Thursday, the Raiders hold the NFL’s third-most cap space ($22.5MM, per OverTheCap). The $10MM the Cowboys saved moves them up to fourth in cap space ($22.49MM), while the Bears ($22.2MM), Commanders ($18.4MM) and Seahawks ($17MM) now sit fifth, sixth and seventh.

A handful of this year’s post-June 1 cut crop joined Cox in taking advantage of the modern setup, which allows these cap casualties to become free agents immediately — rather than waiting until June to hit the market. In place since the 2006 CBA, this adjustment let veterans loose early while keeping their cap figures on teams’ payrolls through May. Collins quickly joined the Bengals, while Littleton landed with the Panthers, Hooper signed with the Titans, and Phillips returned to the Bills. The remainder of this group remains unsigned. The savings this lot of teams inherited Thursday may help some of these players’ causes in free agency.

Bengals Set To Complete Offensive Line Renovation

The Bengals fell just short of their first ever Super Bowl win in their third appearance in the league’s season finale. As the final seconds ticked away, analysts’ fingers started pointing, with many of them directed at Cincinnati’s lackluster offensive line. 

In their loss to the Los Angeles Rams, the Bengals fielded Trey Hopkins at center, Jonah Williams at left tackle, Isaiah Prince at right tackle, Hakeem Adeniji at left guard, and Quinton Spain at right guard. Hopkins and Spain are free agents, no longer on the roster. Adeniji and Prince retain their roster spots, but are no longer projected to start. Williams, perhaps the only bright spot on the line last year, will return as the blindside blocker.

The Bengals worked ferociously in the offseason to address their deficiencies on offensive line. They signed three free agent offensive lineman who are all expected to come in and start right away. Ted Karras comes to Cincinnati after starting experience at center in both New England and Miami. Alex Cappa comes to town after three strong seasons as the Buccaneers’ starter at right guard. La’el Collins is ready to bookend the line with Williams after years of starting experience at right tackle in Dallas.

With Karras at center, Collins and Williams at tackle, and Cappa at right guard, that leaves one position up for grabs. The current favorite to start at left guard is 2021 second-round draft pick Jackson Carman. Carman served mainly as a backup last year for the Bengals earning six starts on the year while playing in every game. The main concern with starting Carman is the fact that he couldn’t supplant any of the lackluster starters from last year. Perhaps with a year of NFL football under his belt now, Carman will blossom into a strong starter at left guard.

The other favorite to man the last spot on the offensive line comes from Cincinnati’s most recent draft class, according to Ben Baby of ESPN. The Bengals used one draft pick this year on an offensive player, bestowing that honor upon the 23-year-old tackle out of North Dakota State, Cordell Volson. Volson served as the Bison’s right tackle in his last college years, but had experience at all four guard and tackle positions during his time in Fargo. That versatility will certainly come in handy as many college tackles tend to move to an interior lineman position if they aren’t projected to dominate as a tackle at the next level. Volson is sure to give Carman a run for his money as the Bengals look to put the finishing touch on their full offensive line renovation.

All the players mentioned above are the favorites to contribute on the offensive line this year, but the following players will attend camp with the hopes of stealing a starting job. At center, Cincinnati also rosters Trey Hill, Lamont Gaillard, and undrafted rookie Ben Brown. At guard, the Bengals’ roster lists D’Ante Smith and undrafted rookie Desmond Noel. The only tackle on the roster that wasn’t already mentioned is undrafted rookie Devin Cochran.

Bengals To Sign La’el Collins

Cincinnati’s effort to re-make their offensive line isn’t finished yet. According to Mike Garafolo of NFL Network, the team is “finalizing an agreement” with tackle La’el Collins (Twitter link). Jeff Howe and Paul Dehner Jr. of The Athletic report that the contract is a three-year deal.

Collins was scheduled for another free agent visit elsewhere, Garafolo notes, but the Bengals are getting him signed before he could leave their building. The former Cowboy is set to become the third starting-caliber addition to their offensive line, as Cincinnati has already brought in Ted Karras and Alex Cappa.

The 28-year-old was released by Dallas last week, as they undergo some noteworthy changes to their own o-line. Not long after learning he would need to find a new NFL home for the first time in his six-year career, Collins met with the Bengals. While they didn’t immediately come to a new deal – leaving the Dolphins potentially in the mix to add him – they seem to have done so now.

A former UDFA, Collins began his time in Dallas as a guard, but is most well-known as the team’s starting right tackle. He saw steady improvement during his time as a Cowboy, earning higher PFF grades with each passing season. In 2021, he continued that trend by registering a mark of 82, despite having not played the previous campaign.

With Collins in the fold, the Bengals have continued to bolster the unit charged with protecting quarterback Joe Burrow. After ranking among the worst teams in terms of sacks allowed – and seeing each of Burrow’s two seasons in the league end with serious knee injuries – the Bengals made it clear they were going to be aggressive in pursuing upgrades. That has certainly been the case so far.

Collins will likely man his familiar right tackle spot, creating a bookend with former first-rounder Jonah Williams. Those two, along with Karras and Cappa, should represent a marked improvement in what was seen as the teams’ weakest position group. The news could send 2020 sixth round pick Hakeem Adeniji inside to guard, or leave him as depth at the RT spot.

Dolphins Pursuing LT Terron Armstead

We heard before free agency opened that the Dolphins would be aggressive in their efforts to upgrade their offensive line. The ‘Fins agreed to terms with free agent guard Connor Williams earlier this week, and Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald hears from two trusted sources that the club is pursuing free agent LT Terron Armstead (Twitter link).

As the Chiefs elected to place the franchise tag on Orlando Brown, Jr., Armstead is likely the top LT option on the open market (a case could be made for Duane Brown, but he is six years older than Armstead, who will turn 31 in July). Still, despite his three consecutive Pro Bowl bids from 2018-20, and despite a typically strong 75.9 overall score from Pro Football Focus in 2021, there has not been a great deal of reported interest in Armstead at this point.

Indeed, as of the time of this writing, only the Dolphins have been even speculatively linked to the lifelong Saint. Perhaps that is because he missed significant time with a knee injury last year, an injury that will require offseason surgery. Plus, Armstead may have been willing to return to New Orleans on a hometown discount if the Saints had been able to acquire former Texans QB Deshaun Watson via trade.

Now that Watson has been dealt to the Browns, Armstead may be turning his full attention to other suitors. In Spotrac’s estimation, the Arkansas-Pine Bluff product is worth a four-year, $95.8MM contract, and while that would obviously be a hefty investment for the Dolphins, Armstead’s presence should be well-worth such a commitment, assuming there are no complications with his knee surgery.

Just yesterday, Jackson reported that the Dolphins were “monitoring” the recently-released La’el Collins, but the Miami Herald scribe says the club is putting its Collins pursuit on pause while it tries to seal the deal with Armstead. Even if the Dolphins do sign Armstead, Jackson suggests they could subsequently try to acquire Collins to play right tackle.

Latest On La’el Collins’ Market

La’el CollinsBengals visit concluded without the well-regarded right tackle signing, but the defending AFC champions remain interested, per Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald (Twitter links).

The Dolphins are monitoring this situation as well, though it is unclear how serious they are about adding the longtime Cowboys blocker. The Dolphins, per USA Today’s Tyler Dragon (on Twitter), join the Bengals in making a strong push for Collins. No Dolphins visit is scheduled, however, with Jackson adding the AFC East squad appears to be looking through other options.

Connor Williams is Miami-bound, likely set to fill one of the Dolphins’ first-string guard spots. While Collins began his NFL career as a guard, he was working at tackle by the time Williams’ career began. The Dolphins moved 2020 right tackle Robert Hunt to guard last season, leaving them with a bit of a need on the right edge.

Although Joe Burrow‘s sack total became a regular talking point as the season progressed, Pro Football Focus graded Miami’s line as the NFL’s worst last season. Cincinnati and Miami reside within a few hundred thousand dollars of each other in cap space, per OverTheCap, with each holding just more than $16MM in available funds.

The Bengals moved quickly to add two interior O-linemen — Alex Cappa and ex-Dolphin Ted Karras — but Collins would be a bigger coup for the O-line-needy team. Collins, 28, was also linked to the Patriots, who may be set to lose their right tackle in free agency. Trent Brown visited the Seahawks but remains unsigned.

Bengals To Meet With T La’el Collins

La’el Collins‘ first post-Cowboys visit will be in Cincinnati. The Bengals will host the veteran right tackle, according to Mike Garafolo and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). Collins is flying to Ohio tonight, with the visit set for Friday, per Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio and The Athletic’s Jeff Howe (Twitter links).

As expected, the Bengals have been active in attempting to repair their beleaguered offensive line this week. They have signed interior blockers Alex Cappa and Ted Karras. Collins checks in with a slightly higher profile than both and would certainly be an upgrade for the defending AFC champions at right tackle.

Bengals offensive line coach Frank Pollack was Collins’ first NFL position coach, being with Dallas from 2015-17. Pollack’s position group has been under siege for multiple seasons, with the Bengals having seen Joe Burrow suffer a torn ACL and lead the NFL in sacks taken last season. The Bengals have Jonah Williams set to return at left tackle, but the team has operated with a purpose this week — after not devoting much in the way of resources to Burrow’s first two O-lines — to upgrade other areas up front.

Collins has been regarded as one of the NFL’s best right tackles for a few years now, but the former high-end prospect-turned-UDFA has not been consistently available during the 2020s. After missing all of the 2020 season due to injury, Collins saw a PED suspension shelve him for five games last year. Still, he came back and regained his job, making 10 starts for the NFC East champion Cowboys. Collins, however, only missed one game from 2017-19.

Dallas cut Collins for financial reasons, with the team’s longtime right tackle following Amari Cooper off the team’s payroll. The Bengals making this signing would nearly complete their O-line overhaul. Burrow, per The Athletic’s Paul Dehner Jr., is helping recruit Collins, who is also an LSU alum (Twitter link).

If the Bengals cannot close a deal with Collins on his visit, the Patriots and Dolphins have interest, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com tweets. The Dolphins have already signed ex-Cowboy guard Connor Williams but have needs across their line. The Patriots lost Karras and traded Shaq Mason, and the team may lose right tackle Trent Brown as well.

Cowboys To Release La’el Collins

As expected, the Cowboys will be moving on from right tackle La’el CollinsAccording to ESPN’s Todd Archer, he will be released later today (Twitter link). 

It had been reported earlier this week that the team was trying to find a trade partner for Collins. There was apparently a market developing for teams to trade for him, but he will hit the open market instead. Archer adds that the 28-year-old will be designated a post-June 1st cut. Doing so will save the Cowboys $10MM in cap space, as opposed to $1.3MM had they traded him.

Collins joined the Cowboys as a UDFA in 2015. He quickly established himself as the team’s starting right tackle, playing a significant role on one of the league’s best offensive lines. Durability wasn’t a concern during a three-year stretch from 2017 to 2019, where he only missed one game. In 2021, however, he was limited to 12 contests.

While he only played 671 snaps this past season, the LSU product showed he’s still capable of playing at a high level. He earned a PFF grade of 82, confirming that his release is related to finances, not performance. Between his age and caliber of play, he is likely to have a number of suitors interested in his services.

The Cowboys, meanwhile, are set to move forward with 2020 UDFA Terence Steele as their new starting right tackle.

Cowboys Likely To Trade Or Release OL La’el Collins

3/13/22, 3:28pm: According to some updated information from ESPN’s Ed Werder, at least six teams have shown interest in Collins. It’s unclear whether any teams are eager enough to trade for him or whether they will wait to bid for his services upon his release.

3/12/22, 9:04am: It sounds like La’el Collins‘ stint with the Cowboys has effectively come to an end. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter (via Twitter), the organization has given the right tackle permission to seek a trade. If the team can’t find a trade partner, they’ll likely release the offensive lineman.

While the team would only save $1.3MM on their 2022 books by releasing or trading Collins, they could save $10MM if they designate him as a post-June 1 cut (per ESPN’s Dan Graziano on Twitter). The front office will have to juggle the financial advantages of waiting vs. any enticing offers they may receive.

Due to off-field allegations and threats of a holdout from his agent, Collins went undrafted during the 2015 draft. However, after catching on with the Cowboys, it didn’t take the lineman all that long to emerge as a dependable starter. While he had issues staying on the field during his first two seasons in the NFL, Collins started all but one game for Dallas between 2017 and 2019.

However, Collins didn’t appear to be a favorite of the Mike McCarthy-led staff. As ESPN’s Todd Archer notes on Twitter, the new Cowboys staff never “seemed to be a fan of Collins,” and it could have been attributed to a missed season in 2020 due to injury and a suspension in 2021. Upon returning to the team, Collins didn’t immediately get his starting gig back, although he did end up starting 10 of his 12 games last season.

Cowboys Discussing La’el Collins Trade

The Cowboys are engaged in active trade talks involving tackle La’el Collins (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport). Collins, who is due $10MM in 2022, has drawn interest from multiple teams, RapSheet hears. 

[RELATED: Latest On Cowboys’ Lawrence]

Pro Football Focus graded Collins as one of the NFL’s best right tackles in 2019. After that, he missed 21 of his next 22 possible games. First came the hip injury which wiped out his 2020 season. Then, in 2021, Collins missed time with a neck injury and a five-game suspension. According to the NFL, Collins attempted to bribe a drug test official last year.

Collins came back in the fall, first as a left guard before moving back to the outside. From a football perspective, Collins’ contract is a bargain — he’s locked in through 2024 at $10MM/year. The going rate for tackles of his caliber and age group (29) is significantly higher.

On the other side of the ball, the Cowboys are hoping that DeMarcus Lawrence will agree to a pay cut. Currently, the edge rusher is scheduled to earn $17MM in base salary for 2022. If they drop the rest of his five-year, $100MM+ extension and use the post-June 1 designation, they can carve out $19MM in cap room for the coming year.

Cowboys Place OT Terence Steele On Reserve/COVID-19 List

The Cowboys are dealing with a bit of a COVID problem. Per Calvin Watkins of the Dallas Morning News, the club has placed right tackle Terence Steele on the reserve/COVID-19 list after a positive test. As Watkins’ colleague, Michael Gehlken, tweets, Dallas’ O-line coach Joe Philbin, O-line assistant Jeff Blasko, offensive assistant Scott Tolzien, and strength and conditioning coaches Harold Nash, Jr., Cedric Smith, and Kendall Smith are also on the list following positive tests.

Neither Steele nor the staffers (with the possible exception of Cedric Smith) will be available for the Cowboys’ game against the Saints on Thursday. La’el Collins will get the start at RT in Steele’s absence.

Steele, a 2020 UDFA, served as Collins’ primary replacement last season, which Collins missed due to hip surgery. This year, Collins was hit with a five-game PED suspension, and starting left tackle Tyron Smith has missed time with an ankle injury. So Steele has played both LT and RT in 2021, and Pro Football Focus’ metrics paint him as the 53rd-best offensive tackle out of 81 qualifiers.

To combat further spread of the virus, the Cowboys will be working virtually through Monday and will have daily testing through Tuesday. The good news is that WR Amari Cooper, who has missed Dallas’ last two games due to a positive COVID test of his own, should be back in action for the Saints game, as Watkins writes.

The Cowboy’s other top wideout, CeeDee Lamb, who missed the club’s Thanksgiving loss to the Raiders due to a concussion, is also expected to clear protocols and suit up against New Orleans (Twitter link via Adam Schefter of ESPN.com).