Kind of close to my immediate, knee-jerk reaction when hearing the news. Just add a couple more T’s on to that though.
Jamie Collins just got traded to the Cleveland Browns for a future, compensatory 3rd round pick. Yup. Now, as more details leak out, we’re learning more and more about the situation. Clearly, the deal was due to the Pats unwillingness to pay the man his money. Collins has been slated to pursue “Von Miller” type money from New England. Knowing my good friend Bill, that was never going to happen.
Look, we knew decisions like this were coming. The Patriots have a lot, and I mean A LOT, of key players on the team set to hit the free agent market at years end. But I was hoping that these decisions wouldn’t be made until years end. With Collins gone, it seems Dont’a Hightower is priority #1 for Bill and company. To me, Hightower is the better linebacker. I’ve advocated for him to be priority #1 and I’m happy to see he is, but seeing Collins go sooner than expected is certainly a tough pill to swallow.
A key reason why the All-Pro linebacker was dealt was the emergence of rookie linebacker, Elandon Roberts. Roberts has seen his role increase week by week and even got the start alongside Hightower over Jamie Collins yesterday. I was curious why Collins seemed to only get in for run heavy fronts and wasn’t used in his typical role. Well, turns out yesterday served as Roberts tryout in the “Collins” role. He was solid, and he is solid, but he certainly isn’t an All-Pro caliber linebacker. Collins loss hurts both on the field in playing situations, and also magnifies the Patriots lack of depth at the linebacker position. God forbid Hightower, or even Roberts for that matter, go down with an injury, we might see some Shea MccLellin action.
Now, Jamie becomes a prime franchise tag candidate for the Browns and should receive that hefty, hefty, hefty contract he is seeking either this year or the next. Maybe he can buy his own flight to Houston now when his former team raises the Lombardi Trophy.
It hurts Pats fans, but more decisions like this could be just around the corner. Losing Jamie Collins certainly won’t help this mediocre defense for the remaining weeks of the season, but this team is still undoubtedly the best in the NFL, much less the AFC.
by Mark Panzini