Written by: Alex McKinnon– Staff Writing Intern (@)
The Browns shocked the NFL community yesterday by becoming buyers during trade deadline week as opposed to selling off parts for picks. Cleveland, 0-8, sent a conditional 3rd-round pick to New England for second team all-pro linebacker Jamie Collins Sr. The exchange came as an instant shock to Patriots fans despite being conditioned for years to expect the unexpected from Bill Belichick. The man who sent Chandler Jones packing to the Cardinals struck again within the same calendar year.
However, like many of Belichick’s previous significant moves, stories have leaked that this was unavoidable. Jamie Collins, 27, is in his fourth season as an NFL pro. After a quiet rookie campaign, Collins exploded as a sophomore with the to-be champion Patriots during the 2014 season. His 116 tackles, 4 sacks, 2 interceptions and 4 forced fumbles helped a young, flourishing defense en route to their first title in 10 years. In Collins third season, he proved his worth. Despite missing four games, Collins still managed to accumulate 89 tackles, 5.5 sacks, 5 forced fumbles and an interception. He was named second team all-pro for his accomplishments.
Michael Lombardi, former Patriots assistant and current NFL analyst for FOX has been on a tear over the past two days proclaiming the move to be necessary based on the effort Jamie Collins puts in. He tweeted this shortly after the trade:
Collins on the second play of the game does whatever he wants and Bills gain 28 yards. Been happening all year. It was not going to continue
— michael lombardi (@mlombardifoxtv) October 31, 2016
…Which can be seen here…
— Christian (@FBLRave) October 31, 2016
…And later said this on Bill Simmons podcast while breaking down the trade:
“The one thing you have to do, (former president of basketball operations for the Knicks and Pacers) Donnie Walsh said this to me in the 1990s, or the late ’80s, ‘You’ve got to know what you’re trading before you make a trade.’ And that’s the one caveat that Belichick knows,” Lombardi said. “He knows what he’s trading.
“He’s trading a guy who is very talented, but very moody, very inconsistent with his effort, and so for him to pay that player that type of money sends a message to the locker room that, look, I tolerate this and I reward this.”
More importantly, following reports that Jamie Collins was asking for Von Miller-type money (6 years, 114 Million dollars) as well as whispers that Collins was discussing the matter in the locker room, Bill Belichick’s hands were tied. Collins, in his final year of his rookie deal, could have signed with another team at the end of the season which would grant the Patriots the compensation of a…. 3rd-round pick. However, the pick would be good for the 2018 season as opposed to the 2017 pick Belichick acquired from the Browns. This 2018 pick could have been from a team that is far superior to the Browns, whose 2017 pick will be as valuable as a late second-rounder. There is also considerable hope that the 2017 draft class is deeper than the following year. This yet again, shows that Belichick continues to be one step ahead of everyone watching.
Lost in the rumblings found in Foxborough, MA was the acquisition by the 0-8 Cleveland Browns. Many expect Jamie Collins to be a future franchise tag candidate and should be in Celveland for at least this season and next. Collins joins a team with bleak hopes for this season but may be slowly building a core of stars. Jamie Collins will join a thin defense which is led by stud cornerback Joe Haden. On the other side of the ball, Joe Thomas, Corey Coleman, Gary Barnidge, Isaiah Crowell and Terrelle Pryor join Collins and Haden as the future of the Browns. Many speculated the departure of Thomas and Haden but both survived the 4PM deadline on Tuesday. You could also add Robert Griffin III to the discussion if he is ever able to stay healthy. The Browns will continue to be the laughing stock of the NFL, for now. We will see if Jamie Collins can be apart of the turnaround for the last remaining disgrace to the Cleveland sports scene.
Back to Belichick, the man with the iron fist. Many believe Belichick made this move to add to his rhetoric of no one man being the team. With Collins lack of effort, discussion of contract in the locker room, and poor execution in a tight system, he laid his own bed. Belichick has been unwavered in the past when it comes to personnel and he proved it yet again on Monday. Jamie Collins joins an elite field of former Patriots who have been either traded or cut despite their impact…
Do you see a player on that list whose absence hurt the team? Belichick is unafraid of sending someone packing if they are not up to snuff. Another name not on this list because he simply just took another offer in free agency is Darrelle Revis. Revis is now ‘breaking down’ in New York and will certainly be a burden on the Jets cap and fan base for years to come. Belichick is the ultimate master of understanding when a player’s time has come. Do not be surprised if Jamie Collins slowly becomes a mediocre character once he is removed from an elite system.
To play Devil’s Advocate, many are curious about the timing. Despite everything about the Collins financial and systematic situation, the Patriots are on a roll. They are 7-1, and barring any major injuries look to be the heavy favorite to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl. Jamie Collins was still a major part of the scheme and depth chart which is now thinned out to Dont’a Hightower and a cast of characters including recently acquired Kyle Van Noy. Collins versatility and athleticism are at minimum, worth a little bit in the passing game. Yes, Belichick was able to receive a draft pick one season early, but was it really worth making the defense more vulnerable? Additionally, during a season where another rental player (Sam Bradford) was shipped to Minnesota for a 1st rounder and a 4th, how in the world was Jamie Collins only worth a third? The details of this trade stink of something bigger in the works but we can only work with the information we are given. Good luck to Jamie Collins, a man who went to bed 7-1 and woke up 0-8.