The Patriots are bringing back an old friend to help bolster their defense. On Wednesday the Boston Globe and Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported that New England is set to re-sign linebacker Jamie Collins. The details of the deal are currently unavailable, though it is unlikely to be an excessively high salary. The deal will likely include a number of incentives to make it relatively friendly for both sides.
The Patriots drafted Collins in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft out of Southern Miss University. He had a productive three and a half seasons in New England, playing as an athletic, do-it-all linebacker. He racked up solid numbers across the board, with multiple sacks, forced fumbles, passes defended, and interceptions in each season. Collins played a crucial role in the team’s Super Bowl XLIX victory over Seattle.
The Patriots traded Collins to the Browns in the middle of the 2016 season for a third-round pick. Cleveland then signed him to a four year, $50 million extension that made him one of the highest paid linebackers in the league.
While Collins played well in Cleveland, he never lived up to the luxurious contract that he received. In 2017 he missed more than half the season with a torn MCL. He rebounded in 2018, leading the team with 104 tackles and contributing four sacks, a forced fumble, four passes defended and an interception. However, his performance was never game-changing, and not exactly worth the $10 million the team was set to pay him this upcoming season.
Collins will be a welcome addition back in New England, particularly in the locker room. While his exit from New England was not exactly ceremonious, he did not leave on particularly bad terms. With free agency looming, Collins started to take matters into his own hands throughout the 2016 season. His freestyle play created issues for the Patriots, and they decided to get something back from the Browns for him.
His roster spot is not entirely secure, with the Patriots having Dont’a Hightower, Kyle Van Noy, and Elandon Roberts returning. They also have second-year player Ja’Whaun Bentley who showed promise last year before ending up on the injured reserve. However, Collins brings athleticism and experience back to New England and gives them more depth at an area that always seems prone to injury with the Patriots.