The New England Patriots made a shocking trade one day before the NFL trade deadline, sending linebacker Jamie Collins to the Cleveland Browns for a third-round pick, as first reported by ESPN’s Adam Schefter. The Browns later confirmed the trade.
Collins, 27, is a versatile and talented linebacker who moved around and played several positions in the New England defense. He was scheduled to become a free agent in the offseason and would’ve cost $14.129 million to franchise tag, so it will now be a top priority for the Browns to take on the task of extending their newly added linebacker.
Bus Cook, Jamie Collins agent: “The thinking is, if they don’t want me, go someplace that does.” Collins knows the records. Still OK with it— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) October 31, 2016
With fellow linebacker Dont’a Hightower and cornerback Malcolm Butler set to hit free agency as well in 2017, the Patriots clearly made some decisions about which players were and weren’t valued in the New England defense. Also shipped out was Chandler Jones, a Pro Bowl defensive end who was traded to the Arizona Cardinals in the offseason in exchange for Jonathan Cooper and a second-round pick.
Jones reacted to the new of the Collins trade on Twitter:
Shheeshhh— ♛Chandler Jones (@chanjones55) October 31, 2016
In August, the Browns sent former first-round pick Barkevious Mingo to the Patriots for a fifth-round pick, but he has played sparingly in his time in New England, contributing most on special teams.
With lowered cap hits for Tom Brady over the next two seasons, the Patriots aren’t starved for cap space, but the team is one that has valued building through the NFL Draft and has swindled teams in the past by trading players who didn’t play the same once they weren’t in New England anymore. While Jones has played well in Arizona, quarterbacks like Matt Cassel and Ryan Mallett fetched high compensation and didn’t play up to the price tag.
Since 2014, the Patriots have made 21 trades involving a player, the most of any team in the NFL.
For the Browns — a team that fell to 0-8 with a loss to the New York Jets — adding Collins is clearly a move for the long term. He’s still a relatively young player who can instantly improve the middle of the Cleveland defense and, if extended, be a building block to add pieces around.
“We look forward to him being an important piece of our defense,” Browns coach Hue Jackson said Monday. “The plan is for him to come in and learn our system quickly so he can make an immediate impact.”
Collins hasn’t been as productive as usual in 2016, and dealt with a hip injury earlier in the year. Still, in seven games he had a team-leading two interceptions, along with a sack and a forced fumble.