The funniest – in an ironic way, not a Season 4 of Parks and Rec way – about the Browns releasing Jamie Collins is the timing. At least for me personally. Because this comes just hours after I posted a piece about how the Patriots are undoubtedly about to lose Trey Flowers, and I’m not worried about it.
Losing our most physically intimidating and freakishly athletic defenders is a time-honored tradition around here. To the point that any time someone freaks out someone leaving, I immediately start questioning how long they’ve been a Patriots fan. Or if they’re like 11 years old. Because this has been going on since Lawyer Milloy in 2003. That should’ve been the last personnel move where we ever questioned Bill Belichick. Because all letting him walk (five days before the season and straight to a decent Buffalo Bills team) did was start the best back-to-back seasons in NFL history. A record of 34-4 and two Super Bowl titles.
The Pats trading Jamie Collins in the middle of the season for the same compensation they would’ve gotten if they’d just let him play out the year and leave as a free agent should’ve freaked us all out. But by then, I’d learned never to question Belichick:
For the record, the pick they got for Collins was the 103rd overall. They then traded it to New Orleans along with their N0. 32 pick for Brandin Cooks and the 118th pick. Which Roger Goodell then took away over footballs that lost air in the cold. Bill works in mysterious ways.
It proves once again that it’s the system. Not how fast a player is or if he can Matrix over blockers:
The Patriots replaced Collins ultimately with Kyle Van Noy. Who, while gifted, is probably not the athlete Collins is. Doesn’t have the straight line speed or the world class broad jump skills. But he’s a better fit. He makes reads and knows his assignments and executes in a variety of ways. Which is what makes him a superior football player. For the Patriots, anyway. And who cares whether he’d be better anywhere else?
The Browns made the mistake practically every team makes. They fell in love with Collins’ abilities, threw tens of millions of dollars at him and assumed that would make their defense great. The same with the Cardinals and Chandler Jones. They traded for him (for picks that eventually became Joe Thuney and Malcolm Mitchell), made him one of the highest paid at his position. And ended up with the worst record in football and the 26th-ranked defense. Meanwhile, the Pats defense has done this without them:
So it’ll be interesting to see how it plays out for Collins. Where he lands and whether he can still command $10 million in 2019. Of course, he won’t be making it in Foxboro. But if he’s willing to take a massive pay cut, fit into the aforementioned system, be in the position Greg Schiano expects him to be when he expects him to be there and bring his metahuman physical tools back to the Pats in a limited role, I’d take him. Make it so.