Quick Thoughts on La’El Collins Re-entering the Draft

Been having some good Twitter conversations on this topic so I thought it would be good to just put the points here. For those unaware of the situation, Collins is a first round prospect whose draft hopes are being de-railed by a murder investigation where he is not a suspect but also has not been completely cleared by the police. Because of the NFL slotting system there is a major financial loss with each round he drops. He has no apparently informed teams that if they dont draft him by the third round he will re-enter next years draft.  Im not sure he can do that though, unless he is actually drafted.

If Collins is drafted over the next two days he can force the issue to return to the draft next season. The way he does that is by holding out for the year. At that point the NFL will put his name back in the 2016 draft.  But that requires him to be selected. There is another stipulation to consider there as well- any team that drafts him in 2015 would be ineligible to draft him in 2016. So he would need a team to be willing to take a chance on him late in this draft knowing they cant have him next year. But yes he can re-enter if this happens as stated in the CBA.

(b) If a Drafted Rookie has not signed a Player Contract during the period from the date of such Draft to the thirtieth day prior to the first game of the regular season: (i) the Club that drafted the player may not thereafter trade to another Club either its exclusive negotiating rights to such player or any Player Contract that it signs with such player for the player’s initial League Year; and (ii) the Club that drafted the player is the only Club with which the player may sign a Player Contract until the day of the Draft in the subsequent League Year, at which time such player is eligible to be drafted in the subsequent League Year’s Draft by any Club except the Club that drafted him in the initial Draft.

The bigger question is what happens if he is not drafted?  Based on my reading of the CBA he immediately becomes an undrafted free agent. Such players do not seem to be allowed to re-enter the draft. If they were then a number of CFL or Arena players who never signed to play in the NFL would have been draft eligible. Instead they usually sign in January, taking low cost futures contracts with little or no signing bonus.

The CBA simply refers to a “rookie” as follows:

“Rookie” means a person who has never before signed a Player Contract with an NFL Club. The first Player Contract signed by such person is a “Rookie Contract.”

That should include any draft eligible player who went undrafted. As a rookie a player is locked into the UDFA equation which limits a team to a small bonus (the team cant spend more than approx. $90,000 on all UDFAs) and minimum yearly salaries. He would however be eligible to sign an extension after two years. I believe this limit applies to any player regardless of when he signs such that the player can not sit out a season and then “break the system” by signing a large contract.

(Edit: I was able to confirm that in the past there have been players who went undrafted and unsigned but are treated as UDFA’s per the CBA when they sign. In 2011 the Vikings signed Emmanuel Arceneaux to a futures contract in January that contained a signing bonus. That signing bonus was accounted for against the teams 2011 UDFA pool.)

We’ll see how things go down over the next few days, but I feel like Collins is going to have a hard time earning what he hoped.

  • McGeorge

    Why not “take a risk” and draft him with a 5th round pick or lower?

    • Derek Lamarr

      That’s what he wants a team to do. If a team does that, he can re-enter the draft next year and (probably) go higher. Basically they’d waste a pick just to do him a favor.

      • I look at it differently, the difference between a bottom of round 3 contract and bottom of round 7 contract is about half a million dollars, if he gets drafted in the next few rounds and elects to sit a year he’ll lose a year of playing and would delay his second contract, losing even more money on the back end of his career. Unless he really believes he’d be taken in the 1st round a year after not playing football and when he wasn’t even projected in the 1st round by many this season (i.e. not likely), the financial risk seems to far outweigh the possible reward of being in next year’s draft instead.

        I think what he wants is to not be drafted and become a free agent, thus letting him sign with any team for probably about what he would have made as a first round or second round pick (if a team was going to use a high pick on him, wouldn’t they be willing to pay him that money without losing the pick? Assuming he’s cleared in the murder investigation).

        I think if a team takes him today he’ll sign. They can offer him a larger signing bonus or some such to sweeten the pot, but sitting a year will do him more harm than good and I think he has to know that.

        • Derek Lamarr

          He can’t get first round money as an UDFA. The slotting maximums apply to the UDFA pool too.

          • Well if that’s true it would add a new wrinkle. But if his goal was to be drafted, why issue an ultimatum saying you won’t sign? Just keep your mouth shut and let a team draft you, then don’t sign the contract and go back into next year’s draft. That would be a pretty poor strategy.

      • McGeorge

        They would not do him a favor.
        If he sits out a year his value drops as teams wont value him as highly.
        He will have been away from the sport for a year, and probably wont be in as good shape.
        Plus he makes the Vets minimum for a year, which while not millions, is still real money, I think around $420,000 or $435,000. If you dont piss that away that goes pretty far after taxes in some parts of the country, outside of expensive metro areas. $200,000 is real money to a lot of Americans.

        If he forgoes that and makes $600,000, then he breaks even after 3 years (420 * 3 = 600 * 2 + 20K made flipping burgers because he sat out)

  • eddiea

    Couldn’t some of this been avoided if he had just talked to police instead of putting Draft activities ahead of it? He could’ve talked, cleared up whether he was there and been been back to Chicago with good news. Now, not only will he not get drafted he won’t be able to go back into ’16 Draft. Oh well, the Real world hit him sooner thsn he wanted and it might include a murder charge. Hopefully not, but this is what happens when prioities are out of order.