The last time the Pittsburgh Steelers played the New England Patriots, former second-round linebacker Jamie Collins led their defense with eight solo tackles. A few weeks later, they plays Collins again—after the Patriots traded him to the Cleveland Browns for a conditional third-round draft pick.
Collins got to face the Steelers three times in 2016, totaling 26 tackles in those three games in addition to forcing a fumble. So they may be interested to hear that it sounds as though the former Pro Bowl player, at 27 years of age, sounds as though he is likely going to be staying inside the AFC North.
According to Jason La Canfora, “the Browns have made significant progress on an extension with pending free agent Jamie Collins, sources said”. He also wrote that the deal is anticipated to be done by the weekend, so we will know shortly if La Canfora’s ‘sources’ are correct. Steelers fans should know well that that has not always been the case.
Collins did tell reporters late in the season that he was open to returning with the Browns and liked being around his new teammates, but the money would have to be right. Now, that could of course apply to any player, as most only have one opportunity to hit their big pay day, and his is coming up in March.
The Patriots traded him, in fact, in large part due to the fact that they anticipated that they would not have the financial resources to meet his salary demands. By trading him, they would at least recoup something for him. In this case, they are going to be awarded a third-round compensatory pick from the Browns.
Collins recorded 69 tackles in eight games with the Browns, immediately becoming a starter. He also recorded two sacks and forced a fumble. On the season as a whole, he recorded 112 tackles, three sacks, two interceptions, and two forced fumbles.
When it comes to the Browns, they should not have any difficulty in re-signing a high-priority free agent. After all, they have more room under their salary cap than anybody else in the league, especially after failing to hang on to several key free agents just last offseason, including a pair of offensive linemen, which saw them finish the year with by far the most sacks allowed in the league.
It might be worth noting that Cleveland shook up their coaching staff, including their defensive coordinator and their linebackers coaches. They brought in Gregg Williams to take over at the defensive coordinator position. I have no idea if that is a good thing or a bad thing for Collins in terms of wanting to remain in Cleveland, though if he is about to sign an extension, I would imagine that he probably approves.