The knock on linebacker Jamie Collins has always been that he is only suited to play in a defensive scheme that features New England Patriots roots.
After a successful start to his career in New England, Collins left to join the Cleveland Browns and struggled. He returned to the Patriots again and once again found himself. Then, in 2020, Collins signed on with the Detroit Lions and Patriots disciple coach Matt Patricia, keeping his streak of successful seasons alive in the Patriots scheme.
The Lions went through a regime change in 2021 and while Collins seemed ready to take on a starting role with the new coaching staff, he was benched after just two games. After being unable to trade him, he was released soon after.
On Wednesday, Collins once again found his way back to the Patriots, signing with New England according to a report from his agency. He joins a few other former Lions waiting for him, including Patricia and two of Detroit’s former second-round picks: linebackers Jahlani Tavai and Kyle Van Noy.
So why couldn’t the Lions and Patriots reach a deal? Is this a case of Bill Belichick getting the better of rookie general manager Brad Holmes?
The answer is simply: the Patriots couldn’t afford Collins.
But that changed this afternoon after the Patriots traded CB Stephon Gilmore to the Carolina Panthers for a 2023 sixth-round pick and, in turn, freed enough cap space up to help facilitate the Collins reunion.
In the end, the Lions are left with a large cap hit and no compensation for moving on from Collins, but that is the cost of business in a rebuild. Former Lions GM Bob Quinn left Holmes in a bad spot with Collins’ contract, and despite renegotiating and trying to make it work, it unsurprisingly failed. The Lions cut their losses and have already started giving new opportunities to younger linebackers—which, in the long run, is a step in the right direction.