Do you believe in second chances? Can you improve on first impressions? Is it possible to go back home? Can Jamie Collins come back to the team that drafted him?
So many questions…
These are questions that the New England Patriots and linebacker Jamie Collins are going to find the answers to when training camp opens for the 2019 NFL season. Collins was unceremoniously shipped off to the Cleveland Browns late October of 2016. Coming during the bye week of a tumultuous season it provided a much needed break for both parties.
The Patriots received draft capital for an individual it was likely not to resign. The Cleveland Browns got their hands on top tier free agent, one who might not have even taken a phone call from management. The Browns quickly inked him to a four year deal.
Bill Belichick walked away from the deal as the eventual winner, as they helped turn that third round pick into Brandin Cooks, Isaiah Wynn and numerous other draft day maneuvers. Oh, and two Super Bowl rings and an additional appearance. So, that worked out ok.
What led to his exit?
Similar to Patrick Chung‘s career arc, Collins has returned a wiser and more experienced football player. During his initial stint, he won on athleticism and speed. Every fan in New England remembers his leap over the head of the long snapper to block that kick. It was his freelancing ways that drew the ire of the coaching staff and contributed to his banishment to Cleveland. His contract situation also contributed. And like so many Patriots before him, he was seeking riches that the team was not willing to part with.
Now that the Cleveland Browns shelled out the cash for him, what do the Patriots have in store for the experienced vet?
What are the Patriots getting?
A versatile, dynamic linebacker on the cheap for one. His contract is an extremely reasonable one year deal that guaranteed just $250k, and up to $5 million dollars in mostly incentive based language.
Snaps for another. With Dont’a Hightower and Kyle Van Noy returning as roster locks, and second year Ja’Whaun Bentley coming back from injury, there are only three sure linebackers on the roster for week one.
KVN accounted for 90.70% of the defensive snaps, as well as an additional 125 snaps on special teams. Hightower followed him with 74.21%, and 74 snaps on defense and special teams respectively. After that was a whole lot of part timers on both units.
Collins did miss ten games in the 2017 season with a concussion and a season ending MCL tear. He bounced back in 2018 but still look a touch slow. Collins will have to prove that he is fully healthy in order to stick with the team. He will also have to show up willing to work and listen to the coaching staff. With Belichick having a greater hand on the defensive side of the ball, I doubt he will allow the amount of improvisation that Collins is capable of.
The expectations for the 2019 season?
Collins can come in and prove his professionalism. He can get caught up with the new play book and bring his unique playing styles to the team. If the Patriots break camp with a healthy four man rotation of Hightower, KVN, Bentley and Collins, that would constitute one of the deeper and more talented units across the league.
Whatever happens, Belichick will select his guys, get them ready, and put the best game plan to win football for the 2019 season.
Thank you for reading this article written by Andrew Lykins. You can find the rest of my work over at http://bostonsportsextra.com/author/@alykins32 You can find many other fine articles on all Boston sports at Bostonsportsextra.com
My mind resides at twitter under @ALykins32
All statistics were found at www.pro-football-reference.com unless otherwise noted.