Now that the 2015 NFL Draft had ended, all eyes will be on LSU offensive lineman La’el Collins, who is scheduled to meet with Baton Rouge police on Monday for questioning in the shooting death of his former girlfriend, Brittney Mills. Collins, who is not a suspect in the shooting, could have his name cleared completely in the next few days and then sign with a team as a priority free agent by next weekend.
So, assuming Collins is cleared by police this coming week, do the Pittsburgh Steelers have any shot at signing him? In short, yes, you would have to think they have as good of a shot as any other team.
For starters, It’s not like other teams are going to outbid the Steelers for Collins due to the rules of the CBA when it comes to the rookie pool and undrafted free agents. Specifically, each NFL team has a cap of $86,957 to use for the signing bonuses for all of their undrafted signings. In other words, if one team was going to blow their whole signing bonus cap on Collins, he would only earn $521,957 during his rookie season.
Teams, however, can guarantee base salaries when it comes to undrafted free agents and that might be one way several try to lure Collins to sign with them. Had Collins been a top-15 overall pick Thursday night, he would’ve had his entire four-year contract guaranteed, so he’s probably expecting teams to guarantee his three-year undrafted contract.
Being as teams won’t be able to tempt Collins with big money, the offensive lineman will be able to pick and choose where he wants to play. With that said, you would think he would want to play for a stable franchise with a history of winning. In addition to that, he will want to play for a team that can offer him a chance to start as a rookie.
While Collins played left tackle during his last two seasons at LSU, he played left guard as a sophomore and that’s likely to be his best position at the NFL level. It just so happens that the Steelers could use a future starting left guard being as current starter Ramon Foster is entering the final year of his current contract. If signed by the Steelers, Collins should be given every opportunity to beat out Foster during training camp for the right to start in 2015.
Collins certainly would be a fit in Pittsburgh and being as the Steelers really have compiled a nice group of younger offensive lineman over the course of the last five years, the LSU product should really consider signing with them.
As far as him going undrafted, at least the new contract he’ll sign will only be for three years instead of four. If he plays extremely well during his first three years in the league, he will surely cash in heading into his fourth season even though he’d be a restricted free agent. He might not even have to wait that long as undrafted free agents are eligible for an extension after two seasons per the CBA.
We will probably know by next Sunday which team Collins will play with in 2015 and you can probably bet that the Steelers are monitoring his legal situation closely.