There is little evidence linking the Patriots and a reunion with linebacker Jamie Collins. Could that change?
The Cleveland Browns kicked off their off-season by releasing linebacker Jamie Collins a week before the free agency period begins.
Cleveland acquired Collins from the Patriots back in 2016.
The Browns hoped he’d be the piece to build their defense around, but so far the linebacker hasn’t lived up to his potential.
Despite this, the Super Bowl champion should still garner plenty of interest around the league.
From the start of his career, Collins dazzled scouts as well as the competition. He played multiple positions on offense and defense while in high school, where he was also a track and field star. The multi-athlete focused on football while at Southern Mississippi, where he contributed in the front seven as well as the secondary.
His physicality and athleticism displayed at the 2013 NFL Combine drove his draft stock up immensely, leading to him being picked in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft by the New England Patriots.
Collins walked into a seemingly stable situation at Foxboro. Being coached by defensive mastermind and head coach Bill Belichick along with defensive coordinator, Matt Patricia seemed to be a perfect fit.
In addition, he walked into a locker room with linebackers who he could learn from, such as Jerod Mayo and Dont’a Hightower.
The rookie made an impact from day one. Collins played in every game of his 2013 rookie season starting in eight of them.
In his first playoff game, against the Indianapolis Colts, Collins recorded the first sack and interception of his career. After a successful rookie season, it was clear that the Patriots had a talented linebacker.
2014 was an integral part of a dominant New England defense. In his sophomore year, Collins blossomed into one of the best linebackers in the league.
The phenom was on the field in Super Bowl 49 when Malcolm Butler made the goal-line interception to clinch the organizations fourth super bowl.
With injuries and age catching up to Mayo, and the loss of Brandon Spikes in the preseason, all signs were pointing to Collins becoming an institution at the linebacker position for New England.
In 2015, Collins finished as one of the top graded linebackers, per Pro Football Focus.
After earning 2nd-team All-Pro honors, Collins was expecting a big pay-day. The linebacker went as far to proclaim that he wanted “Von Miller money.”
Little did he know this would lead to his demise in New England. Belichick was not pleased by Collins’ comments as he shipped the Pro Bowler to Cleveland for a 2017 third-round pick.
Three years later, Collins will now have the choice of who he wants to play for.
The Patriots currently have a deep linebacker core consisting of Hightower, Kyle Van Noy, Elandon Roberts, Albert McClellan, and rising sophomore Ja’Whaun Bentley.
Even with this depth Collins presents an immense boost to the position group and is familiar with the system in New England.
If the price tag isn’t too high, it’s hard to imagine New England would not inquire about a reunion with Collins.
But, as of now, there is little evidence to link Collins with New England. The linebacker will most likely be searching for his final large multi-year contract. New England simply does not have the cap space to sign him long-term.
In addition, linebacker is not a position of concern currently with the depth on the current roster.
A reunion with Jamie Collins would make for a great story, but it does not make sense for the Patriots heading into 2019.