Cowboys Extend La’El Collins

The Dallas Cowboys were back in the news today, this time signing tackle/guard La’el Collins to a two year, $15.4 million contract extension per NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo. The move largely “makes Collins whole” after dropping in the 2015 draft following the possibility that he was a suspect in a murder, which he was cleared of being involved in a short time later. At the time Collins more or less stated he would prefer to go undrafted if not selected high enough in the draft and that is exactly what happened. At the time that occurred I looked at the benefits of being undrafted and it worked out for Collins.

Collins will now stand to make about $17 million over the first five years of his career. Had he been drafted in the first round Collins would have had an option year that likely would be worth around $9 million for 2019. If we pull that out from this extension it essentially puts his value somewhere around the 29th or 30th pick in the 2015 draft. Dallas that year had the 27th pick so the numbers are pretty close to where Dallas selected that year.

It would certainly seem as if Dallas was doing Collins a favor here and I am sure some will speculate that as long as Collins was not a bust that they would honor a first round status. It is hard to see Dallas really exhibiting much leverage in this situation at all.  Collins started 11 games as a rookie at left guard and just 3 games last year before landing on injured reserve. The plan this year is to move him to the much lower cost right tackle position.

Those are not the numbers that would merit any kind of extension, even a short term one, given the contractual situation. Collins was under contract this year for a small number, which will be baked into the extension, and the Cowboys controlled his rights for another year at a low number which is not baked into the extension.

That number would have depended on the RFA tag that he was given. Based on his play I assumed that this would be the 2nd round tender which is worth around $2.9 million. If they used a first round tender it would be $4.1 million. The 1st round tender isn’t really used very often and only for high level stars or QB’s, something Collins is not.

Taking that into account Dallas is effectively paying Collins, a right tackle, between $11.3 and $12.5 million for a one year extension. The current top contract for a true right tackle is Ricky Wagner at $9.5 million a year. The top guard contract is Kevin Zeitler at $12 million a season.

Im not sure you can spin those numbers in any  way as a positive for Dallas. Even if Collins becomes a top line player the Cowboys still don’t control his rights beyond those first few years. It’s a big departure from the contracts they did in recent years for their top players on the line who are all under contract for a long time.

So sure they did Collins a solid here, but if I was a player on the Cowboys in a similar spot I think Id want the same benefit moving forward.

Questions about this article? Reach Jason Fitzgerald on Twitter at @jason_otc